Blockchain healthcare

US Health Department Blockchain Research Contest Sees 15 Winners

15 winners have been selected by the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC), a division of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) following its blockchain research challenge.

Department HHS

Announced last month, the HHS sought whitepapers as a part of the “Use of Blockchain in Health IT and Health-related Research Challenge”, a competition to look into the potential utilization of blockchain technology in healthcare.

The ONC said that it received over 70 submissions in total. The participants included individuals, organizations and companies, pitching and probing ways in which blockchain technology could be used in healthcare IT, to manage, exchange and protect electronic health information.

From the overall pool, 15 submissions were chosen as the final winners.

National coordinator for health IT Vindell Washington stated:

We are thrilled by the incredible amount of interest in this challenge. While many know about Blockchain technology’s uses for digital currency purposes, the challenge submissions show its exciting potential for new, innovative uses in healthcare.

The winning whitepapers were chosen due to several factors. The papers’ creativity, ability to information and foster transformative changes in the industry and their proposed solutions or recommendations for market viability were all considered. So too, were parameters including the underlying potential to support different national health and health information objectives that includes progressing the flow of health information to a destination where it is most required.

Blockchain in Healthcare

The most notable endeavor by a private enterprise to research and explore blockchain usability and potential in healthcare is the case of Dutch giant Phillips. While the electronics maker is prominently known for its household appliances, the company’s largest business is its healthcare arm. Philips competes with the likes of General Electric and Siemens AG to gain a slice of the lucrative hospital scanner market. The first sign of the company’s foray into blockchain-based research for the healthcare industry was revealed late last year.

Arno Laeven, the initiator and head of Philips Blockchain Lab stated:

Our aim is to learn if blockchain technology could potentially add value to the process of data exchange in the healthcare industry.

The very notion of archiving and securely accessing patient records by an authorized doctor at the required time could prove to be life-saving. Even from a security standpoint, hospitals are resigned to depending on offline records predominantly in locally installed computers, a practice frequently exploited by ransomware extortionists in recent times. The increasing number of cyberattacks targeting healthcare organizations and hospitals prompted security agencies in the U.S. and Canada to issue alerts to the healthcare industry in both countries. Blockchain technology could help immunize patient records and information from cyberattacks, while safeguarding the data from breaches.

The complete list of winners of the blockchain competition can be found here. Contestants who submitted the winning entries are also flown to Washington D.C. to formally present the papers to the HHS.

Featured image from Shutterstock.