HHS, DHA, FDA: Blockchain Has Useful, But Distant, Potential

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“Blockchain isn’t necessarily a revolution. It’s an evolution.”

That statement from Debbi Bucci, information technology architect for the Office of Standards and Interoperability in the Department of Health and Human Services (HSS), summarized the gist of today’s ACT-IAC’s Healthcare Blockchain Forum, which touched upon the future potential that blockchain technology could have in building interconnected healthcare systems.

Although blockchain has not been widely adopted by many government agencies, Bucci and other speakers at ACT-IAC’s forum touched upon the potential blockchain holds for securing and connecting health records, managing systems, and expanding efficiency.

More specifically, Bucci said that blockchain could help improve identity management, auditing, filling health record gaps, and improving microservices within healthcare systems. Defense Health Agency Office of Chief Informatics Officer Radiologist Roger Boodoo added that blockchain has the potential to drive efficiency and connectivity in medical image exchange, referral management, data provenance, medical device management, and provider credentialing.

The opportunities that blockchain could bring to different agencies are still distant, however. Bucci said that even though blockchain has developed significantly over the past few years, she still hasn’t seen a blockchain application that can fully deliver on agency goals.

“There have been many, many proof of concepts over the last three years, but I’m still waiting for an authoritative health-related blockchain solution to rise to the top,” Bucci said.

Since blockchain also involves interoperability and expanded connectivity, Food and Drug Administration Office of Medical Policy Deputy Director Khair ElZarrad also said getting all stakeholders on board for blockchain is another challenge the government will have to overcome in the future if it moves toward blockchain applications too.

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