The June 6 meeting of the Cuyahoga County Health, Human Service and Aging Committee featured two presentations. There were no pieces of legislation considered at this meeting. The first presentation was about electricity programs for low income residents, the second was about blockchain technology.
Blockchain is a method by which transactions take place and are able to be verified electronically in an open and transparent way.
Danielle Dronet, LISW-S and Bart Wilson presented to council. Dronet is a licensed therapist and psychoanalyst, who owns and operates the Center for Advanced Mental Health Practice (CAMHP), a private practice in Cleveland Heights. Additionally, she created the Center for Advanced Mental Health Practice (CAMHP) Foundation, a nonprofit that focuses on social connections that improve social connections to improve community health. She has developed an app called eKhipu which is designed to streamline the application process for state and federal programs, and would allow for a user to securely store their data and information via blockchain for future usage in other applications. Blockchain is a method by which transactions take place and are able to be verified electronically in an open and transparent way. Records of transactions are stored on a public and verifiable public ledger, which is intended to reduce instances of fraud. However, confidential health information that would personally identify individual is not included on the public electronic ledger that is used by blockchain. Dronet explained that there would be two versions of the app, one for case workers and one for agencies. She went on to say that the app would help reduce operational overhead and provide better security to applicants of state and federal programs. The presenters asked council for the opportunity to work in a pilot program with county agencies in order to see if the app can be used to streamline the application process.Cuyahoga County Council Committee learns about blockchain, possible impact on HHS. Click To Tweet
Council had plenty of questions. Cuyahoga County HHSA Committee Chairwoman Yvonne Conwell wanted to know what made blockchain more secure than cloud storage, and what assurances could be made that the information would remain secure. Dronet said that because the blockchain process could potentially involve many people to verify transactions, so this eliminates the possibility of fraud and security breaches. Conwell also wanted to know if Wilson or Dronet had spoken to the state or federal governments, given how frequently county systems have to interface with federal and state databases. They had responded that so far they have a meeting scheduled with the Social Security Administration, but not many beyond that. They believe that the app and/or blockchain process will become more popular as cities such as Austin and states like Michigan have started experimenting with the technology in an effort to increase efficiency in government and reduce overhead expenses. Additionally, in response to a question about ease of use by Councilman Dale Miller, Dronet said that what makes the app so user-friendly is that it is possible to store each individual’s information and use it for every application that needs to be filed. That means that applicants would not have to enter their information on separate applications over and over again. Miller also asked about cost, to which Dronet said that the app would require some sort of fee for use. Councilwoman Nan Baker asked how people would be able to access the app, especially if they do not have a smartphone or internet connection.
Councilwoman Shontel Brown was interested in understanding the role of a case worker with this app. Dronet replied that sometimes when a case worker leaves, the paperwork for individual clients may become harder to track down. With blockchain, that information is easily found because it is securely stored in their electronic record.
Councilman Michael Houser wanted to know what next steps Dronet was seeking, as it appeared as if several councilmembers were not sure what the exact “ask” was of the council. Dronet asked to connect with council officials to determine how to put together a pilot project with five clients to test the feasibility of the app and demonstrate the benefits to the county.
From the questions of the councilmembers, they seemed interested in understanding how blockchain tracking worked, but seemed skeptical of the specific program without more concrete evidence of effectiveness and benefit.
From the questions of the councilmembers, they seemed interested in understanding how blockchain tracking worked, but seemed skeptical of the specific program without more concrete evidence of effectiveness and benefit. Conwell encouraged the presenters to continue to work with stakeholders as the technology develops.
The committee then heard public testimony regarding the upcoming listening tour of the Department of Child and Family Services. The meeting was then adjourned.