HHS us­ing blockchain to stream­line con­tract pro­cure­ment

Modern Healthcare - - News - —Shelby Liv­ingston

In­ter­est in blockchain tech­nol­ogy to solve big prob­lems isn’t lim­ited to the pri­vate sec­tor. In De­cem­ber, HHS re­ceived author­ity to op­er­ate the first blockchain-based tool in the fed­eral gov­ern­ment.

The tool, called HHS Ac­cel­er­ate, re­lies on blockchain to stream­line the process the depart­ment uses to pro­cure prod­ucts and ser­vices from pri­vate ven­dors. With the tool, HHS aims to speed up the pro­cure­ment process and re­duce its costs.

Ven­dors should ben­e­fit from fewer ad­min­is­tra­tive tasks, so they can fo­cus on the qual­ity and de­liv­ery of the ser­vices they pro­vide.

The “author­ity to op­er­ate” term means HHS Ac­cel­er­ate can start test­ing the tool with live data.

“Our goal is ac­tu­ally to lever­age and har­ness all of the data within HHS, which is about $24.8 bil­lion in spend, about 100,000 con­tracts, about 1 mil­lion pages of un­struc­tured data, and pro­vide that in­for­ma­tion to the 20,000 mem­bers of the ac­qui­si­tion work­force in real time at their fin­ger­tips so that they can ac­tu­ally make good busi­ness de­ci­sions,” Jose Ar­ri­eta, as­so­ciate deputy as­sis­tant sec­re­tary in HHS’ ac­qui­si­tion di­vi­sion, said dur­ing a recorded demo of the tool on Dec. 12. “We be­lieve that with­out blockchain this would not be pos­si­ble.”

Ar­ri­eta ex­plained that one as­pect of the tool will use blockchain as a ledger to record ven­dors’ in­ter­ac­tions with HHS so ven­dors are able to ac­cess a times­tamped record of all fi­nan­cial in­for­ma­tion, re­quests­for-in­for­ma­tion, ref­er­ence checks and other data they pro­vided in the past so it can be used again.

An­other as­pect of the tool would en­able con­tract­ing pro­fes­sion­als to ac­cess his­tor­i­cal in­for­ma­tion about prices, terms and con­di­tions for a prod­uct or ser­vice in real time. Col­lect­ing, or­ga­niz­ing and an­a­lyz­ing that in­for­ma­tion would nor­mally take an agency four to six months for a large sourc­ing ini­tia­tive, Ar­ri­eta said.

“We be­lieve that em­pow­er­ing you at the point of pur­chase will ac­tu­ally save a sig­nif­i­cant amount of money for the fed­eral gov­ern­ment, U.S. tax­pay­ers and in par­tic­u­lar Health and Hu­man Ser­vices,” he said.

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