DOD taking renewed interest in blockchain amid COVID-19 pandemic

Midst the COVID-19 pandemic, health executives in the Defense Department are once again looking at the potential use cases for blockchain. The distribution ledger technology has seen pockets of implementation in federal health agencies. On Wednesday, Bruce Doll, the assistant vice president for technology research and Innovation at DoD’s Uniformed Services University, said that the Military Health System should consider blockchain for everything from credentialing providers at clinics to tracking the distribution of a COVID vaccine as part of Operation Warp Speed.

Doll said on Wednesday during a virtual health IT conference hosted by Federal Computer Week that “You certainly want to be in a situation where you are able to track, whether it’s from Pfizer or Moderna, all the way to delivery to the patient, what is actually the quality of that series of steps.”

By using machine learning and AI, Doll said defense health agencies could clean and evaluate its fitness for use to reduce the risk of bad data making its way into the blockchain. “The idea of identifying friend or foe is elemental to environments that we work in, and then those identifications may only take seconds before a decision has to be made,” Doll said. “Having blockchain operating in that environment, so that you can actually have commands that can be conveyed forward in the field and then evaluated for correctness… would be a great advantage.”

The report proposed the DoD consider using blockchain to reduce single points in failure on the battlefield or in emergency decision-making situations. The commissioned report also recommended that DoD consider blockchain to improve the efficiency of its logistics and supply chains.

The Department of Health and Human Services has pioneered the use of blockchain in government. HHS in 2018 gained the first authority to operate an a blockchain and AI-powered tool called HHS Accelerate.

Author: Chandni Mandaviya