healthcare blockchain

Aetna, Anthem, IBM join forces for blockchain-based sharing of healthcare information

The secure and permissioned platform will seek to cut costs and improve the sharing of healthcare data

Leading health insurance provider Aetna has joined another consortium looking to use blockchain to cut costs and speed the sharing of secure healthcare data in the industry.

On Jan. 24, Aetna joined insurers Anthem and Health Care Service Corporation (which includes Blue Cross and Blue Shield), along with PNC Bank and IBM, on a project to create a shared and highly secure, blockchain-based platform that would allow healthcare information to be exchanged more efficiently, the companies said in a press release.

As Modern Consensus reported in December, CVS Health-owned Aetna in December joined the Synaptic Health Alliance, a blockchain project that also includes insurers Ascension, Humana, and UnitedHealthcare, as well as medical testing firm Quest Diagnostics, healthcare cost management provider MultiPlan, and UnitedHealth Group’s pharmacy benefit management firm Optum. The Synaptic project, built on JPMorgan’s Quorum blockchain platform, is aimed at creating a shared directory of health care providers. If successful it could lead to the creation of shared databases containing confidential patient and insurance information.

In the current project, the firms “intend to use [IBM Blockchain technology] to address a range of industry challenges, including promoting efficient claims and payment processing, to enable secure and frictionless healthcare information exchanges, and to maintain current and accurate provider directories,” they said.

“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.”

Noting that “[t]imely access to medical information has been a stumbling block for creating a seamless consumer experience,” in the health insurance industry, Rajeev Ronanki, chief digital officer of Anthem, said: “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.”

Chris Ward, head of product for PNC Treasury Management added, “[u]sing this technology, we can remove friction, duplication, and administrative costs that continue to plague the industry.”

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Leo Jakobson, Modern Consensus editor-in-chief, is a New York-based journalist who has traveled the world writing about incentive travel. He has also covered consumer and employee engagement, small business, the East Coast side of the Internet boom and bust, and New York City crime, nightlife, and politics. Disclosure: Jakobson has put some 401k money into Grayscale Bitcoin Trust.