This past August the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC) and the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) began a “Blockchain Challenge.” Namely, they solicited white papers on the potential uses of blockchain technology in health IT to address blockchain’s potential contributions in the “privacy, security, and scalability challenges of managing electronic health records and resources.”
ONC Blockchain Challenge Whitepaper Review: Accenture
Of the more than 70 proposals, 15 were chosen based on multiple factors, including:
- the approach towards market viability;
- its creativity;
- the ability to inform and foster transformative change;
- the potential to support a number of national health objectives; and
- the potential to advance the flow of information.
Among the ONC Challenge finalists was an eleven-page proposal by Accenture. Accenture’s proposal, titled Blockchain: Securing a New Health Interoperability Experience, aims at improving patient outcomes and
interoperability via the integration of blockchain’s distributed ledger technology with existing IT systems. The proposal further focused on three specific applications “relevant to the mission of the ONC.”
Secure and trusted care records
Creating secure healthcare records into “an electronic chain of events, while preserving the provenance and integrity of the records.” Using access and control permissions in conjunction with solutions such as tokenization, pseudonymization or masking technologies, privacy and security of records would be improved.
Strengthening identity proofing, as well as linking between identities, by preserving a transparent record of “the declared identities of both patients and healthcare professionals.” In maintaining complete record integrity using the distributed ledger feature, auditability would be increased. Therefore, healthcare fraud would more be more likely to be recognized by patients and providers, and then brought to light.
Empowering patients by securing their decisions and directives within the secure healthcare record. If patient consent statements, access control decisions and directives were captured in an immutable blockchain, then healthcare professionals would be able to trust those statements and act on them accordingly.
While the paper acknowledged that blockchain may serve as a cohesive force within healthcare’s complex data ecosystem, it asserted that blockchain “must be additive” and should not “invalidate” or “minimize” existing technology. Accenture further states that it “enthusiastically” supports the future of blockchain technology in the healthcare realm, and believes it to be a positive force in solving current healthcare industry challenges.
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Brennan is a blockchain technical adviser in the healthcare sector and blockchain entrepreneur who has worked on developing proprietary concepts for both artificial intelligence and enterprise blockchain. He is a graduate of Rutgers University School of Health Professions where he earned a M.S. in biomedical informatics.