As blockchain technology continues to improve and the ecosystem improves, there are more and more events to highlight the successes of the community. As a distributed system of accounts, blockchain’s unique and virtually uncrackable technology as led to an explosion of applications that can improve the lives of humans around the world. Although original uses were focused on finance, blockchain healthcare applications continue to grow and improve. The September 2017 Blockchain in Health IT Research Challenge is one such event that highlights many uses of the technology, including especially applications.
Blockchain in Healthcare Technology Research Challenge
The event will be hosted by the National Institute of Health in Maryland on the 26th and 27th of September 2017. The NIH is calling for people, companies or researches to present papers and new research about how to secure transmit and encode digital health care records. As part of the government’s requirements under Obamacare for hospitals to switch to digital health records, virtually all of the new medical records are stored on computers. However, no single system or software is being used to transmit that data around the county to different centers about each patient.
Fortunately, blockchain technology may be the solution to this key problem of the health care sector. In fact, some of the paper’s that will be presented at the challenge have already been announced.
One paper, produced by MIT researchers called “Blockchain and Health IT: Algorithms, Privacy, and Data” envisions a secure peer to peer network where patients can freely transmit their records to the medical providers of their choice. This gives them the power and freedom to control who sees the records without the worry of the information being stolen. That is because blockchain’s encryption capability makes stealing the data extremely difficult.
Another paper by an unaffiliated researcher is titled “Blockchain Technologies: A Whitepaper Discussing how Claims Process can be Improved”. The paper discusses how the insurance claims process can be streamlined and smoothed for all parties. The insurance and reimbursement process is one of the most infuriating and complex aspects of the healthcare industry for all involved. Doctors hate the labyrinth of documentation needed and the all to frequent denials of routine procedures. Insurance companies and the government hate to be overbilled or fraudulently billed by doctors seeking to provide medically unnecessary procedures. While blockchain technologies cannot solve all of the problems, they can make documentation and sharing much easier. All parties involved will be more accountable as the medical information becomes more transparent, shareable and verifiable.
The conference will be held at the National Institute of Standards and Technology which is a division of the National Institute of Health. The NIST is key to formulating government policies and standards in the medical industry. Participants will have access to hear the latest from policy makers about the government’s attitudes and uses of blockchain technologies.
The conference will also include updates on some of the government’s most ambitious blockchain technology endeavors. For example, the Digital Bazaar Project is a task that could give every citizen a digital profile that is secure and interoperable on blockchain. That would represent a huge step forward for the health care space in particular but also finance, voting and other record keeping. The Xcelerate Solutions Project is another blockchain based program that allows disaster relief workers to identify themselves using blockchain technology and gain access to a disaster site for clean up. FEMA is heavily involved in this project.
Lastly, all of the challenge winners will be announced and prizes will be awarded. Those prizes include grants to continue research. Winners will also gain additional status in the blockchain community as an expert in government adoption.
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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.