IBM, an American multinational IT company, is teaming up with a group of major players in the healthcare sector to improve sharing of the sensitive medical data and make medical claims and transactions more well-organized and proficient in the form of an ecosystem based on blockchain.
Declared today, IBM has joined in this effort by Aetna, an American managed health care company that is acquired last November by pharmacy and health plan provider CVS Health, health plan provider Anthem, Health Care Service Corporation, and PNC Bank. These service providers combined an account for nearly 100 million healthcare plans.
Also called Big Blue, IBM said additional members would join the Health Utility Network, which also include other healthcare companies, healthcare providers, startups, and IT companies.
Barbara Hayes, IBM general manager for payers at IBM Watson Health told CoinDesk, “IBM is one of the founding members, but everybody has an equal stake across those founding members. It’s so important because you do have competitors side by side who are going after tremendous amounts of waste that is in the healthcare system; 40 cents, 50 cents on the dollar.”
She explained transforming industries, including healthcare, means going after insights and innovative predictions using data and eliminating inefficiencies. She stated, “In healthcare, these inefficiencies are in clinical areas and in administrative areas – or just friction that happens in the system which leads to bad customer experience.”
Dr. Bill Lafontaine, IBM general manager of intellectual property, added, “We are going to provide the SDKs and other ways to link to the platform. We are leaving this very open because many of the members are bringing different technologies that they have already been investing in and so they get a faster return on that investment.”
However, IBM is the only IT firm trying to influence the immutability and transparency of blockchain for the fragmented and siloed healthcare industry. Other renowned names in blockchain healthcare are Change Healthcare, Guardtime, Hashed Health, Gem and SimplyVital.
In such a busy sector, it is not surprising Big Blue is faced with some consortia competition. In April 2018, Humana and United Health Group, the largest health insurance companies, collaborated on a blockchain ecosystem with healthcare data providers – such as Quest Diagnostics, Optum and Multiplan.
Another healthcare blockchain ecosystem, ProCredEx, launched in November 2018. The system helps to store and share the credentials of medical as well as dental practitioners. It is also expected to save costs and time within the healthcare industry.
PNC Bank has been vocal about its blockchain activities, teaming up with a group of banks and exploring Ripple’s xCurrent payment system for all cross-border transactions. The head of product for PNC Treasury Management, Chris Ward, said in a statement that the collaboration with IBM would make things easier for patients, payers and providers to handle transactions. He added, “Using this technology, we can remove friction, duplication, and administrative costs that continue to plague the industry.”