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Aetna, Anthem, Health Care Service Corporation, PNC Bank and IBM announced on January 24th, a new collaboration to design and create a network using blockchain technology to improve transparency and interoperability in the healthcare industry.
Although blockchain has been mostly used in the trading of cryptocurrency, the technology can also transform the healthcare industry. There are multiple ways in which it can be used, including to give patients control over their health data, with the possibility of being paid by those who want to use this data for research.
IBM’s interest in blockchain is not new. Since March of last year, the company was announcing it had 63 blockchain clients and was working on 400 projects with them.
IBM and its partners aim to create an inclusive blockchain network, which would be beneficial to many members of the healthcare system and would operate in a highly secure, shared environment. The goal is to help healthcare companies build, share and develop solutions to advance digital transformation in the industry.
Healthcare needs to become fully digitized if it is to become more sustainable. AI and blockchain can help improve transparency and interoperability, without which the healthcare system will experience unavoidable costs and glitches. Using blockchain technology insures administrative errors can be reduced and that healthcare information could be exchanged more efficiently, thereby reducing costs while providing better care to patients.
This new ecosystem is expected to address different healthcare industry issues, from payment processing to promoting efficient claims.
The final goal is to enable secure frictionless healthcare information exchanges, and to maintain current and accurate provider directories.
Blockchain — a distributed ledger that it is durable, time-stamped, transparent and decentralized — will be used by the ecosystem’s members to ensure all this. The members themselves have every confidence this new venture will benefit not only the patients but also providers and insurers, thus giving everyone more control over the information they exchange.
Aetna, Anthem, HCSC, PNC Bank, and IBM are working towards defining the initial cases in which the health utility network will be put to good use. In the coming months, additional members, startups, healthcare providers, technology companies and other health organizations will be included in the network. For the time being, everyone seems extremely keen on beginning to work together, so the future of blockchain sounds promising.
“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.”
“At Anthem, we recognize the importance of driving change that will simplify the healthcare system for all Americans,” said Rajeev Ronanki, Chief Digital Officer of Anthem, Inc. “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.”
“We are proud to be part of this collaboration focused on enhancing technical knowledge, understanding capabilities and unlocking the possibilities to drive quality, affordable care,” said Steve Betts, senior vice president and chief information officer, HCSC.
“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.”
“This collaboration will enable healthcare-related data and business transactions to occur in a way that addresses market demands for transparency and security, while making it easier for the patient, payer and provider to handle payments” said Chris Ward, Head of Product, PNC Treasury Management. “Using this technology, we can remove friction, duplication, and administrative costs that continue to plague the industry.”
Aetna, a CVS Health business, serves an estimated 39 million people with information and resources to help them make better informed decisions about their health care. Aetna offers a broad range of traditional, voluntary and consumer-directed health insurance products and related services, including medical, pharmacy, dental and behavioral health plans, and medical management capabilities, Medicaid health care management services, workers’ compensation administrative services and health information technology products and services. Aetna’s customers include employer groups, individuals, college students, part-time and hourly workers, health plans, health care providers, governmental units, government-sponsored plans, labor groups and expatriates.
Anthem is working to transform health care with trusted and caring solutions. Their health plan companies deliver quality products and services that give their members access to the care they need. With over 73 million people served by its affiliated companies, including nearly 40 million within its family of health plans, Anthem is one of the nation’s leading health benefits companies. For more information about Anthem’s family of companies, please visit www.antheminc.com/companies
Health Care Service Corporation is the country’s largest customer-owned health insurer and is the fourth largest health insurer overall, with more than 15 million members in its Blue Cross and Blue Shield plans in Illinois, Montana, New Mexico, Oklahoma and Texas. A Mutual Legal Reserve Company, HCSC is an independent licensee of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association. HCSC has a rating of A+ (Strong) from Standard and Poor’s, A1 (Good) from Moody’s and A (Excellent) from A.M. Best Company. For more information, please visit HCSC.com.
IBM is recognized as the leading enterprise blockchain provider. The company’s research, technical and business expert teams have broken barriers in transaction processing speeds, developed the most advanced cryptography to secure transactions, and are contributing millions of lines of open source code to advance blockchain for businesses. IBM is the leader in open-source blockchain solutions built for the enterprise. Since 2016, IBM has worked with hundreds of clients across financial services, supply chain, government, retail, digital rights management and healthcare to implement blockchain applications, and operates a number of networks running live and in production. The cloud-based IBM Blockchain Platform delivers the end-to-end capabilities that clients need to quickly activate and successfully develop, operate, govern and secure their own business networks. IBM is an early member of Hyperledger, an open source collaborative effort created to advance cross-industry blockchain technologies. For more information about IBM Blockchain, visit https://www.ibm.com/blockchain/.
PNC Bank, National Association, is a member of The PNC Financial Services Group, Inc (NYSE: PNC). PNC is one of the largest diversified financial services institutions in the United States, organized around its customers and communities for strong relationships and local delivery of retail and business banking including a full range of lending products; specialized services for corporations and government entities, including corporate banking, real estate finance and asset-based lending; wealth management and asset management.