U.S. Legislators Turn To Blockchain To Fight Infectious Fungal Diseases

U.S. lawmakers bitcoin blockchain health care

Lawmakers in the United States are relying on blockchain technology to provide solutions in health care, specifically around infectious and fungal diseases.

Representatives on the Congressional Valley Fever Task Force have brought forward recommendations for a blockchain pilot, which they hope would allow medical practitioners to more easily share patient information for the treatment of conditions like valley fever.

The condition, which causes chest pain, coughing and fever, is caused by coccidioides, a fungus that is known to thrive in soil, especially in southwestern states. It is one of a number of fungal infections and medical conditions lawmakers propose could benefit from blockchain technology.

The recommendations form part of the FORWARD Act, and have been introduced by task force co-chairs David Schweikert and Kevin McCarthy, with the backing of representatives including Kyrsten Sinema, Martha McSally and Karen Bass.

The proposals aim to make it more straightforward for doctors to share information in a time-critical environment, which it is hoped could allow better decision-making in what are often life-or-death scenarios.

In a statement on the proposals from Schweikert, he said that a blockchain solution could become the future of medical research in dealing with fungal infections and other medical conditions.

“Our design for collecting critical clinical data, while protecting patient privacy through the use of blockchain, should become the future of medical research.”

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there are some 10,000 cases of valley fever reported each year, mostly from California and Arizona. The condition results in a potentially deadly lung infection, which requires effective treatment.

The blockchain pilot would allow the recording and transfer of patient data virtually instantly, as well as removing much of the cost associated with storing and moving the data.

Medicine and patient data handling has long been thought to be one of the most significant use cases for blockchain technology.

The move demonstrates how lawmakers in the U.S. are now becoming increasingly attuned to the benefits of blockchain technology, including beyond the narrow financial or commercial sector use cases.