ONC announces winners of Health Data Provenance Challenge

Agency wants to see winning submissions implemented in electronic products, says Don Rucker, MD.

The Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT on Tuesday announced the Phase 2 winners of its Health Data Provenance Challenge, with the first place prize of $60,000 going to 1upHealth and the second place prize of $40,000 awarded to RAIN Live Oak Technology.

According to ONC, 1upHealth’s winning solution piloted the use of its partner’s provider application to surface provenance information and help providers find aggregated data from various sources using HL7’s Fast Healthcare Interoperability Resources (FHIR) application programming interface, along with proposed improvements afforded by smart contracts on the blockchain’s public ledger.

“Automatically, whenever data is inserted into 1upHealth or collected from any of the connected health systems, a FHIR provenance resource is created detailing the time, location and attributed resource location,” states 1upHealth’s website. “In addition to the basic FHIR provenance resource, the signature field contains a hash or the linked resource. That hash can be verified against a public ledger running on a side chain or Ethereum. That way, anyone who receives the resource can verify that the data they have has not been tampered with and is clinical grade, so it can be trusted to make critical decisions.”

Three of the four finalists in Phase 2 of the ONC challenge leveraged blockchain technology to address the accountability, privacy and security issues associated with sharing electronic health information. Because blockchain has a data structure that can be timed-stamped and signed using a private key to prevent tampering, the technology is seen as a natural fit for managing the accountability, authentication, confidentiality, and sharing of information.

Also See: Data provenance seen as a top healthcare use case for blockchain

Second-place winner RAIN Live Oak Technology created a software toolkit that enables health information systems of any size to integrate provenance into their data flow without disrupting existing practices or data repository requirements.

Last year, ONC issued the challenge to industry designed to promote the use of data provenance by health IT systems in an effort to help identify erroneous information while improving data accuracy and ultimately patient safety. Data provenance provides the ability to trace and verify when and who created information, how it has been used or moved among different data sources, and how it has been modified throughout its lifecycle as it has been exchanged.

“Ensuring provenance of data is an important step in achieving interoperability of health information,” said National Coordinator for HIT Don Rucker, MD. “We look forward to seeing these winning submissions being implemented in electronic products that will allow for the secure, trustworthy and reliable exchange of health information.”

A total of $180,000 in cash prizes was awarded over the challenge’s two phases. Phase 1 involved the submission of white papers describing health data provenance solutions, with four finalists awarded $20,000 each. Phase 2 included the development and testing of solutions.

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