National ONC Blockchain Challenge Explores Micro-Identities to Improve Healthcare Interoperability

Peter B. Nichols | CIO | August 23, 2016

Blockchain technologies will enable patient identity matching.

A lot has been written covering blockchain and healthcare over the past year. From articles on blockchain applications for healthcare to articles by healthcare industry experts exploring blockchain technology as the solution for healthcare interoperability. In early 2016 Forbes published an article titled "How Blockchain Could Change the World." The world is talking about uses of blockchain in the financial services industry. This seems reasonable given that there has been $1.2 billion invested in blockchain startups. The majority of these investments have been within the financial sector.

The cumulative investment in blockchain likely is double. Several of the stealth mode startup companies were funded with pre-seed or seed money and to date are staying well under the radar. However, many startups are eager to get noticed and have published formal press releases, including Brave, Coinigy, Netki, Circle Internet Financial, Mediachain, TechBureau, Fluent, Tierion, bitFlyer, Ethcore, Tibit, BitKan, Custos Media Technologies, Bitwala, Bitt, Stratumn, Rootstock, Elliptic, Chronicled, Keza, Loyyal, Chainalysis, Simplex, SurBTC, Blockstream, SatoshiPay, Digital Asset Holdings, Gem, and Zebpay.

The focus has been on the financial markets and out of the public startups, only one company, Gem, has anything to do with healthcare, and only one startup is primarily concentrating on applying blockchain to healthcare (Gem). Somehow we need to get back the basics of the blockchain and start to dive into real solutions that can discover root causes for healthcare interoperability in the United States. The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), in partnership with the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC), has opened the ONC Blockchain Challenge...