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IBM Teams With Healthcare Leaders On Blockchain Network




IBM and health insurance giants launch a new consortium to digitize healthcare information exchange. Details to be determined.

Sharing sensitive data in the course of providing healthcare services and managing insurance claims has always been a struggle for industry players. Problems with system interoperability in the US healthcare ecosystem, along with chronic processing snags within organizations, have stymied cost improvement. 

IBM has joined with Aetna, Anthem, Health Care Service Corp., and PNC Bank to collaborate on designing and building solutions that lead to bona fide digital transformation. According to IBM, the consortium aims to create an inclusive blockchain network that can benefit multiple ecosystem participants in a highly secure, shared environment.

Over the years, there have been multiple attempts to address widespread process deficiencies that have left healthcare providers and consumers equally dismayed. By reducing administrative errors and frictions through the application of blockchain technology, healthcare information could be exchanged more efficiently, according to IBM. That, in turn, could drive costs down.

"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. Using blockchain technology, he added, "We'll work to improve data accuracy for providers, regulators, and other stakeholders, and give our members more control over their own data."

"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. Similar sentiments came from new collaborators Anthem, Health Care Service Corp., and PNC.

The IBM consortium expects to welcome additional network members in coming months. These could include traditional healthcare companies as well as startups and technology firms. This idea of creating a blockchain network has already spurred other healthcare system organizations to create like-minded consortiums, such as the Synaptic Health Alliance, which wants to improve provider directories. (Aetna joined that initiative in December.)

There's no word yet on the group's immediate steps.

Mary Driscoll

Mary Driscoll covers finance and business trends as a staff writer for ETHNews. She formerly served as an editor for management and finance at the Economist Intelligence Unit and a research principal at APQC. In addition, she has written for The Wall Street Journal CFO Report, HBR-online, and strategy + business. Her book on corporate treasury management was published by John Wiley & Sons, Inc. Mary enjoys hiking and skiing in the Sierras with family. Her goal in life is to win big on Jeopardy.

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