Investigating Blockchain's Role in Health Info Exchange

Marianne Kolbasuk McGee | Gov Info Security | February 23, 2017

ONC's Steve Posnack Discusses Potential Healthcare Applications for the Ledger Technology

Federal regulators are considering the role that blockchain technology could play in advancing the secure exchange of healthcare information, says Steve Posnack of the Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT. Blockchain - an open source distributed ledger technology that's associated with the cryptocurrency bitcoin - "has a lot of different potential implementations, and I think its diversity in how it can be implemented is one of the attractive features. It's not just a one-trick pony," he says in an interview at the HIMSS17 conference in Orlando.

"We see it being able to be applied in the payments businesses, as well as health information exchange and the security context," he says. Posnack says the non-repudiation aspect of blockchain is important, "and being able to have a distributed ledger - so not needing centralized types of management - is one of the potential benefits of a blockchain type of an approach."

ONC officials are encouraged by blockchain's ability to automate and make more efficient "certain human processes that now have to occur to adjudicate potential relationships," such as between those exchanging patient records, Posnack says. "Blockchain has the potential to make a lot of those better and more seamless in a technological way that is encouraging to us." In the interview with Information Security Media Group (see audio link below photo), Posnack also discusses...