The federal agency of the US Department of Health and Human Services has sponsored a blockchain research contest. The ‘Blockchain Challenge’ received over 70 white papers from industry and academics and the Chamber of Digital Commerce has provided an executive overview with its report: ‘Blockchain Healthcare & Policy Synopsis’.

The main highlights of the report were noted. Maintaining the security and privacy of patients’ records with blockchain technology was found to be a positive although it was pointed out that the type of blockchain technology that should be used is up for debate. There was found to be a focus on using blockchain technology to integrate alternative methods, such as IoT devices, to help patients gain better care and control over their private medical information. One challenge was noted was the need for interoperability among the separate blockchain systems, requiring common standards, which are being developed. Also noted was the importance of partnerships between the private and public sectors in order to successfully integrate blockchain technology into the healthcare sector.

According to the report, currently, a federal cybersecurity R&D strategic plan has been requested by Congress. This aims to find a way to make cybersecurity less burdensome while maintaining its effectiveness. A need was found to encourage the separate regulatory agencies to be more innovative by finding projects where they can integrate new technologies, such as blockchain.

An area to tackle that was brought up was getting physical assets registered on the blockchain which was designed to control digital assets, requiring physical items to be registered off-chain. The issue of confidentiality and authority were raised with presumably permissioned blockchains being preferred and limits being required on who can view the data.

Alongside this, a need was noted for global standardization with identity blockchains to provide interoperability. The Group W3C was highlighted as currently working on creating global standards with a focus on identity. However, the group was said to need input on what the appropriate standards should be.

Some of main areas for the application of blockchain in healthcare were thought to be: real item verification of doctor’s license status, drug delivery supply chain auditability, insurance claim fraud detection, continuing education validation, and digital wallets could be used to store a set of medical records, allowing the patient to have their records in digital form, giving them control of who sees their medical information.