Blockchain at the HHS and Libra faces European opposition

Blockchain in healthcare updates

An interview with HHS officials about blockchain activities and possibilities at the HHS

This interview featured Oki Mek, chief technology officer at the HHS Acquisition Division, and Todd Simpson, chief product officer at HHS. They spoke about the various blockchain initiatives underway including:

  • HHS Accelerate, which is an acquisition lifecycle management system

  • Emergency response at the CDC

  • Real time health monitoring

  • Grants management

Moreover, they spoke about the value of blockchain in its ability to facilitate trust by being resistant to tampering, and as Oki Mek points out, that makes it a great technology for cybersecurity. They also spent time talking about Accelerate, how it is using blockchain, and its roadmap. Accelerate was the first blockchain project to get an authority to operate in the federal government, and it was borne from Jose Arrieta’s efforts, who has since then taken a job as the HHS’ CIO.

Recent paper: Towards Patient-centered Stewardship of Research Data and Research Participant Recruitment with Blockchain Technology

This paper proposes a novel architecture using mobile devices and a blockchain to help streamline the process of matching patients to clinical trials. In short, they are publishing details on research to a blockchain to “[create] a public record of all studies and a precise description of the data consumed by each study.” There are several other moving pieces proposed, like the use of the Rete algorithm. Although it is briefly mentioned, I found that it wasn’t clear what the benefit of using a blockchain in this architecture was over, say, a new and improved

A brief post from Encrypgen’s David Koepsell on standards in genomic & blockchain

Specifically this post highlighted why standards are important as well as Encrypgen’s (and other’s) decision to participate in the IEEE P2418.6 Blockchain for Healthcare and Life Sciences Genomics subcommittee Standards Development process. If you’re working in this space I would encourage you to get involved.

I’m starting a blockchain and healthcare Telegram community group

This will be a supplement to this newsletter where I’m hoping to create a community where blockchain and healthcare enthusiasts can discuss ideas and updates. If you have comments on something in this issue, other content you want to discuss, or something else blockchain and healthcare related, jump in by clicking on the link above.

What I'm reading this weekend

I’m continuously impressed by the execution of OpenLaw. Check out this 18 second demo where someone launches a DAO and legally incorporates it from their smart phone.

Incorporation, voting, liquidation, managing finances, and more are all rapidly being expressed as computer code. At some point in the near future we’ll have all the tools needed to start and run a completely digital organization with just a few clicks.

Enabling developers and organizations to use differential privacy

This is another tool in the toolbox for us to create privacy preserving products and services. I wrote a brief introduction to some of these tools back in May and am working on a more complete list. The pace of work in this space is amazing.

France calls for EU-wide crypto rules, a public digital currency, and vows to ban Libra

France’s Minister of the Economy and Finance claimed that the country could not let Libra go ahead because it threatened the monetary sovereignty of governments. This reflects his initial reaction in June. Germany’s ruling coalition is also looking to block the launch of Libra, though he cites how “the economy has done a great job in countering crises and inflation with measures taken by central banks” instead of monetary sovereignty. To me this seems like it is only half of the story as we go further and further into the uncharted territory of negative interest rates, and it also opens up an argument for Libra if we have a recession or inflation picks up.

Despite opposition from key players in the EU the Libra Association is adamant that they will launch in the 2nd half of 2020. My guess remains that the Libra Association will make some concessions and be allowed to launch. This is as much about geopolitics as it is technology or monetary sovereignty. We might cringe at the idea of Facebook, et al being having power over our money, but that’s more permissible than the People’s Bank of China having power over our money. Moreover, it seems that we might end up with a European alternative as well, with Bank of England Governor Mark Carney calling for a Libra-like replacement to the dollar backed by national currencies.

Vitalik pens another post comparing how some layer 1 and layer 2 scaling solutions are in effect doing the same thing

Digital medicine standards 101

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