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 RD. 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.

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