Lightweight Blockchain for Healthcare

Leila Ismail, Huned Materwala, Sherali Zeadally

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

183 Citations (Scopus)


Healthcare data management has been gaining a lot of attention in recent years because of its high potential to provide more accurate and cost-efficient patient care. The traditional client-server and cloud-based healthcare data management systems suffer from the issues of single point of failure, data privacy, centralized data stewardship, and system vulnerability. The replication mechanism, and privacy and security features of blockchain have a promising future in the healthcare domain as they can solve some of the inherent issues of the health management system. However, most of the recent research works on blockchain in the healthcare domain have primarily focused on the permission-less Bitcoin network that suffers from drawbacks such as high energy consumption, limited scalability, and low transaction throughput. Consequently, there is a need for a scalable, fault-tolerant, secure, traceable and private blockchain to suit the requirements of the healthcare domain. We propose a lightweight blockchain architecture for the healthcare data management that reduces the computational and communication overhead compared to the Bitcoin network by dividing the network participants into clusters and maintaining one copy of the ledger per cluster. Our architecture introduces the use of canal, that allows secure and confidential transactions within a group of network participants. Furthermore, we propose a solution to avoid forking which is prevalent in the Bitcoin network. We demonstrate the effectiveness of our proposed architecture in providing security and privacy compared to the Bitcoin network by analyzing different threats and attacks. We also discuss how our proposed architecture addresses the identified threats. Our experimental results demonstrate that our proposed architecture generates 11 times lower network traffic compared to the Bitcoin network as the number of blocks increases. Our ledger update is 1.13 times faster. Our architecture shows a speedup of 67% in ledger update and 10 times lower network traffic when the number of nodes increases.

Original languageEnglish
Article number8869754
Pages (from-to)149935-149951
Number of pages17
JournalIEEE Access
Publication statusPublished - 2019


  • Blockchain
  • consensus
  • decentralization
  • health information management
  • privacy
  • scalability

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Computer Science
  • General Materials Science
  • General Engineering


Dive into the research topics of 'Lightweight Blockchain for Healthcare'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this