Can Blockchain Help America’s Veterans? One Lawmaker Thinks So

A US congressman has proposed that the country’s administration for veterans affairs use blockchain to track medical appointments.

AccessTimeIconSep 14, 2016 at 11:34 a.m. UTC
Updated Sep 11, 2021 at 12:29 p.m. UTC

A member of the US House of Representatives has proposed that the country's administration for veterans affairs use blockchain to track medical appointments.

, submitted on Monday, is directly aimed at providing a means for dismissing employees of the US Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), which oversees the distribution of government services to former members of the armed forces.

The bill is tied to a long-simmering controversy surrounding the VA Department and delays in medical treatment for veterans. In 2014, for example, the Obama administration was fiercely criticized after it emerged that some VA staff had manipulated scheduling records to mask the delays.

Now, one member of Congress is looking to distributed ledger tech as a possible solution.

A number of changes have been proposed beyond the language related to the firing of employees, including a proposed amendment, submitted by Representative David Schweikert of Arizona, that states:

"Beginning not later than one year after the date of the enactment of this Act, the Secretary of Veterans Affairs shall ensure that veterans seeking health care appointments at medical facilities of the Department are able to use an Internet website, a mobile application, or other similar electronic method to use distributed ledger technology to view such appointments and ascertain whether an employee of the Department of Veterans Affairs has modified such appointments."

Schweikert has emerged as a notable proponent for the technology within Congress, appearing earlier this year during a blockchain event in DC organized by the Chamber of Digital Commerce, remarking at the time that "this is going to create a revolution".

Schweikert further proposes that the Veterans Affairs Department hire one or more "appropriate entities" to undertake developing the system. The amendment also contains language related to data privacy.

It’s not immediately clear when the amendment will be taken up for consideration, given that the proposal comes weeks before national elections in the US. It's also not clear how the system would be constructed, or why a blockchain would solve the cited issues.

However, the timing is notable, given that the House recently approved a non-binding resolution that calls for the government to adopt a more accommodating stance on blockchain and financial technologies.

Veteran image via Shutterstock

Correction: This article has been updated to reflect that the bill in question is House Resolution 859, not 835.


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