by Thomas Dworetzky
, Contributing Reporter | January 28, 2019
A number of healthcare players are teaming up with IBM to create a healthcare network based on blockchain technology.
Participants include Aetna, Anthem, Health Care Service Corporation (HCSC), PNC Bank, as well as IBM, the computer and software giant said in a statement.
“Blockchain's unique attributes make it suitable for large networks of members to quickly exchange sensitive data in a permissioned, controlled, and transparent way,” said Lori Steele, general manager for Healthcare and Life Sciences for IBM. “The fact that these major healthcare players have come together to collaborate indicates the value they see in working together to explore new models that we think could drive more efficiency in the healthcare system and ultimately improve the patient experience.”
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The goal is to improve transparency and interoperability in the industry – major stumbling blocks at present – by using a blockchain network to create both a secure and shared environment for data transfer.
Should the effort succeed, it would reduce “administrative errors and friction,” according to the participants, and permit the more efficient exchange of information between systems and institutions.
“We are committed to improving the healthcare consumer experience and making our healthcare system work more effectively,” said Claus Jensen, chief technology officer at Aetna, a CVS Health business. “Through the application of blockchain technology, we'll work to improve data accuracy for providers, regulators, and other stakeholders, and give our members more control over their own data.”
Blockchain, which permits the secure logging and transfer of data among many users, could tackle a range of challenges, including making claims and payments more efficient, enabling secure and easy healthcare information sharing, and keeping current and accurate provider directories, according to the statement.
“We view blockchain as an enabler for establishing trust. Timely access to medical information has been a stumbling block for creating a seamless consumer experience. With a trusted foundation based on transparency and cryptography, we will provide a faster, safer and more secure way to exchange medical information to transform the consumer healthcare experience." said Rajeev Ronanki, chief digital officer of Anthem.
Ultimately, such a network could overcome today's information fragmentation in the healthcare industry. Steve Betts, HCSC senior vice president and chief information officer, noted that such defragmentation could prove key to “enhancing technical knowledge, understanding capabilities and unlocking the possibilities to drive quality, affordable care.”