blockchain for health data (LeoWolfert/Shutterstock.com)

Blockchain to speed medical research

Rep. David Schweikert (R-Ariz.) said he plans to reintroduce the FORWARD Act to authorize the National Institutes of Health to conduct a blockchain pilot related to eradicating valley fever, a fungal lung infection that can affect bones, skin, eyes and brain. The pilot would allow three hospitals to work with the NIH to get more and faster access to clinical data for research while preserving patient privacy.

"The back half of the valley fever bill has a wonderful use of encrypted distributed ledger and being able to grab data off hospital servers in a safe fashion to dramatically change the time frame on drug trials," Schweikert said after a talk at the Jan. 15 Blockchainge conference. "There are examples like that could be amazing disruptive and beneficial to the country and society."

Schweikert also spoke about his 2019 plans for the Congressional Blockchain Caucus, which he co-chairs. The caucus plans to convene experts from around the U.S. to show how blockchain technology will work in the real world. "We want to do less theoretical work and more case studies of this [technology] works," he said.

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