As hospitals adapt to the new health and human services (HHS) platform called Coronavirus Data Hub to report critical information about Covid-19, HHS Chief Information Officer José L. Arrieta has confirmed that the agency is using blockchain technology. to track Covid-19 hospitalization data. In an interview today, Arrieta stated how this “… will enable faster clinical trials, protect citizens and flatten the curve on this pandemic, so that we can recover from this pandemic using blockchain technology, an accounting technology. distributed “.
Earlier this week, Arrieta noted that the data on HHS Protect, a data authentication platform, is more comprehensive than that previously provided by the CDC. “At HHS Protect, every day, every data item we receive is hashed with a timestamped record of that data item’s parsing, curating and sharing.” Arrieta, known for defending the benefits of blockchain technology in the US government, explained that blockchain will ensure data for Covid-19 hospitalizations is accurate and traceable.
Arrieta confirmed that the blockchain system used with HHS Protect is an enterprise version similar to the one supported by the Hyperledger organization backed by companies like IBM IBM as opposed to the bitcoin or ethereum blockchains. He refused to reveal the exact name of the platform.
“The blockchain used by HHS is not the blockchain of anarchists and disrupters, but rather as a new breakthrough where thousands of users on the platform access data sets,” Arrieta said. According to Arrieta, HHS Protect coordinates data from 6,200 hospitals in the United States, including number of ventilators, hospital beds, hospitalization and discharge, laboratory test data in the United States, inventory implications, and nursing home data.
As a result of using blockchain technology with HHS Protect, the US government can now, as Arrieta explained, “share with the general public how the results were generated because you have an immutable record.” He added: “Science is about proving something and then sharing the steps of how you proved it. Creating timestamps in an immutable record is truly empowering and allows for complete transparency from a data point of view. “Arrieta noted that blockchain technology will enable HHS to” enable clinical trials faster, better protect citizens, and enable the country to recover from this pandemic. ”
Asked if he believed that the transfer of Covid-19 data from the CDC to the HHS with the data protected by blockchain technology should provide more comfort to Americans about the accuracy of the data provided, Arrieta replied: “Absolutely, this is extremely important. Americans now have a public record of how data was received with timed steps where people have access to the data elements. It is important to note that the CDC, HHS, vendors and the American public are able to see the data item at the exact moment it was shared due to blockchain technology. ”
According to Arrieta, for something as critical as Covid-19 data, trust and transparency are needed for real-time data with large data sets, provided by the blockchain. “With this technology, we are able to do that and I’m super excited,” says Arrieta.
While at the General Services Administration (GSA), Arrieta helped build a blockchain working group from the ground up that meets weekly and still meets every Friday. This working group, run by the American Council for Technology and Industry Advisory Council, (ACT-IAC), a nonprofit public-private partnership dedicated to improving government, has helped develop a blockchain playbook that US agencies can use to determine if the blockchain should be used for a particular use case and how to implement the technology.
The group allows for an ongoing dialogue between government and industry on ways to adopt blockchain technology. From the European Union to China, the whole world increasingly seems to see this technology as the next version of the World Wide Web, or Web 3.0, and is racing to adopt it.
Before today, there was no highly visible blockchain technology used by the US government, causing general concern that America is lagging behind China and others in the blockchain race. However, today’s confirmation of applying the technology to Covid-19 to help reduce the spread of the virus or “flatten the curve,” as it is widely described, will likely show that the US is turning a corner in technology so time critical in our history. Arrieta, in her current role as CIO at HHS, previously noted in January that the HHS Accelerate program, which focuses on using technology to simplify and improve the procurement process, will save HHS “somewhere between $ 33 and $. 40 million “over the next five years. However, HHS Protect was an opportunity to use the technology for its true purpose, he says. “At the heart of this technology is sharing and transparency, the use of hashes and time series, and the ability to share data with integrity to enable the American public to ensure that the underlying data is accurate,” he says. According to Arrieta, blockchain will be the anchor in the market, on an individual, corporate, agency and national level. The technology is transformative and the way it is used takes time, “he says. While saving taxpayers’ money has been a good result with HHS Accelerate, Arrieta believes that” using blockchain with Covid-19 will be really effective in demonstrate the usefulness of this new key technology “.