The Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC) has announced the winners of the Use of Blockchain in Health IT and Health-related Research Challenge.

A blockchain is a public, private, or consortium data structure that can be time-stamped and signed using a private key to prevent tampering. The goal of the challenge was to receive whitepapers discussing the cryptography of blockchain, how it can be used to advanced interoperability needs, and provide recommendations for implementation.

The challenge saw 70 submissions addressing different ways blockchain technology can be used in health IT to protect, manage, and exchange electronic health information.

“We are thrilled by the incredible amount of interest in this challenge,” said Vindell Washington, national coordinator for Health IT. “While many know about Blockchain technology’s uses for digital currency purposes, the challenge submissions show its exciting potential for new, innovative uses in health care.”

Fifteen winners were awarded cash prizes ranging of $1,500 to $5,000.

ONC selected the 15 winners based on market viability, creativity, fostering transformative change, and potential to support a number of national health objectives.

Winning papers outlined the following ideas:

  • Peer-to-peer network that helps parties jointly store and analyze data with complete privacy.
  • Combining smart contracts and blockchain into a platform that improves the claims process.
  • Decentralized record management system to handle EHRs that uses blockchain to manage authenticity, confidentiality, accountability, and data sharing.
  • Using blockchain with the IoT for Patient Reported Outcome Measures (PROMs).

Additional submissions will be posted on on the first day of National Health IT week, Sept. 26.  ONC will also be hosting a workshop on using blockchain in health care Sept. 26-27, where up to eight winners will be presenting their papers.

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