Proving the Business Case for the Internet of Things

IBM collaboration takes blockchain to healthcare

Steve Rogerson
February 5, 2019
IBM is working with Aetna, Anthem, Health Care Service Corporation (HCSC) and PNC Bank to design and create a network using blockchain technology to improve transparency and interoperability in the healthcare industry.
The aim is to create an inclusive blockchain network that can benefit multiple members of the healthcare ecosystem in a secure, shared environment. The goal is to allow the blockchain network to help healthcare companies build, share and deploy services that drive digital transformation in the industry.
"We are committed to improving the healthcare consumer experience and making our healthcare system work more effectively," said Claus Jensen, chief technology officer at Connecticut-based managed healthcare company Aetna. "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."
Despite major initiatives to digitise healthcare information, major improvements in transparency and interoperability among various groups in the healthcare system are still necessary. By reducing administrative errors and friction through the application of blockchain technology, healthcare information could be exchanged more efficiently. These improvements, once realised could help enhance patient care and reduce unnecessary costs.
"At Anthem, we recognise the importance of driving change that will simplify the healthcare system for all Americans," said Rajeev Ronanki, chief digital officer of Indianapolis-based health insurance company Anthem. "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."
The collaboration members intend to use blockchain 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.
"HCSC is continuously exploring how technology and data can improve the lives of our members by reducing fragmentation of information and connecting parts of the healthcare system," said Steve Betts, senior vice president at Chicago-based non-profit health insurance company HCSC. "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."
Aetna, Anthem, HCSC, PNC Bank and IBM are actively working to define the initial use cases for the health utility network. The collaboration will add additional members to the network in the coming months including other health organisations, healthcare providers, start-ups and technology companies. 
"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 at 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."
Chris Ward, head of product for PNC Treasury Management, added: "This collaboration will enable healthcare-related data and business transactions to occur in way that addresses market demands for transparency and security, while making it easier for the patient, payer and provider to handle payments. Using this technology, we can remove friction, duplication and administrative costs that continue to plague the industry."