U.S. Gov’t Announces Blockchain Healthcare Contest

It seems the U.S. government is going all in on blockchain technology, as the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) just announced its distributed ledger contest that applies the technology to healthcare services.

Also read: Governments & Central Banks are Now Funding Blockchain Research

U.S. Gov’t Agency Wants to Apply Blockchain to Healthcare

The contest — called the “Blockchain and Its Emerging Role in Healthcare and Health-related Research,” created by HHS — started accepting registrants on June 20th, with a deadline for application ending July 29th. The goal is to have participants create white papers on the topic of blockchain technology and its use cases within the healthcare industry.

healthcareEntries will be judged in August, with the winners of the contest being invited to an industry-wide workshop, which is backed and co-hosted by the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST). Winner presentations will begin this September among industry leaders and executives.

Requirements for the contest consist of a white paper no more than ten pages to educate readers on “Health IT and/or Healthcare related” technology. Papers are to describe how blockchain technology can enhance the healthcare system with effective solutions and applications for the real world.

The rules also mention the technology should meet today’s privacy standards, implementation, and potential performance issues, as well as cost implications. Risk management, HHS says, should be included within the paper as well.

An excerpt reads:

Describe the value of blockchain to the health-care system. Proponents of blockchain suggest that it could be used to address concerns regarding the privacy, security and the scalability of health records. Critics ascertain that it would take enormous processing power and specialized equipment that far exceeds the benefits. Although most would acknowledge blockchain’s potential it is still evolving and maturing, especially with respect to its applicability to the health care.

healthcareThe paper must also include advanced cryptography and blockchain techniques on how they can advance “industry interoperability needs expressed in the Nationwide Interoperability Roadmap.” Furthermore, its authors can cover patient-centered outcomes research (PCOR), medicine and delivery needs, and the overall security of the healthcare system by using distributed ledger integration.

After passing review and receiving an invitation to the workshop on September 26-27 at NIST Headquarters in Gaithersburg, MD, winners will receive a monetary reward.

Government funding for blockchain projects and research continues to grow as other agencies such as the Department of Homeland Security have also ramped up R&D. The technology is increasingly attracting new investors, corporate entities and now government think-tanks. Considering how the healthcare system has been under attack from hackers and fraudulent activity, the blockchain innovation contest could be the first step towards resolving these critical issues.

What do you think about the Department of Health and Human Services holding a contest to help improve healthcare with blockchain tech? Let us know in the comments below.

Images courtesy of Pixabay and Shutterstock

  • One more stupid thing created on the blockchain basis. WHY NO BITCOIN YOU NASTY DOCTORS?

    • Jamie Redman

      Well, someone could enter the contest and write a white paper using the Bitcoin blockchain as the technology behind their healthcare solutions. There is nothing said against any blockchain within the announcement.

      • I still cant understand why to build something on the bitcoin blockchain instead of just using bitcoin for actual transactions? Implementing such accounting into a hospital could take 2 hours, compared to up to 3 weeks using baks; if that’s the feature you’re talking about, Jamie, then yes, I can agree with you. But I don’t see any resons why should they use blockchain for, for example, storing sensitive data.

        ”The rules also mention the technology should meet today’s privacy standards, implementation, and potential performance issues, as well as cost implications. Risk management, HHS says, should be included within the paper as well.”

        WHYYYYYYY? Have you seen that Kenan & Kel sitcom? WHYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYY? Coz prvacy can be achieved by using GPG encryptoin, XMPP chats, Protonmail encrypted e-mail (or Tutanota), for example. So we no need to bring in the blockchain when it comes to sensitive data protection from hackers or clients. If the personnel is smart enough to keep passwords strong and safe – everything could be much easier, than spending tons of (unreal) dollors for some new blockchain-based program that does exacly the same as encryption do, but with different tools (i.e. decentralized, bitcoin-based node confirmation system)

        The main question remains the same: whether they use bitcoin and succeed or use ”blockchain” and look like fools… oh I mean banks.

        • Jamie Redman

          I agree with your assessment. Largely better encryption would be beneficial.

          • Largely better ecnryption using what….? Blockchain or just the standard encryption tools?

          • Jamie Redman

            Why not both? Both are encryption processes that secure data. I’m not against them using either method.

          • I think it would harm Bitcoin. You know why?

          • Jamie Redman


          • Martin

            Bitcoin actually doesn’t encrypt the data. It uses pseudonyms because the ledger has to be publicly accessible for verification. There is no reason I would need my health records publicly accessible under pseudonym.

            These ideas obviously only come from people, who don’t actually understand the blockchain in depth.

          • Jamie Redman

            Yes, it doesn’t encrypt the data. That was never said. Bitcoin transaction broadcasts are not encrypted and are publicly accessible. For now. However, the record can be saved within the chain in an immutable way. “Encryption processes” was a bad way to say that as it should be “cryptographic processes” that one ensures irreversibility (blockchain) and encryption ensures things in an entirely different manner. You are correct.

  • Eddie Fridovich

    It sounds like fascism.

  • Tom Kysar

    Great piece, Jamie.

    We recently published a piece on the status of the Blockchain Healthcare industry in 2016, covering the pitfalls and promises.

    Would love to get your feedback!