IBM Joins Healthcare Giants for the New Blockchain Initiative

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by Julia Sakovich · 3 min read
IBM Joins Healthcare Giants for the New Blockchain Initiative
Photo: Leonid Mamchenkov / Flickr

IBM has teamed up with a group of healthcare insurers to create a blockchain-based ecosystem for the healthcare industry.

From being a technology traditionally used in the financial industry, blockchain is continuing its way to other spheres of our life. The companies are constantly looking for new spheres where the potential of the emerging technologies can be applied.

Blockchain and Healthcare

According to the information revealed, IBM has entered in cooperation with a group of major players in the healthcare industry with a view to provide an enhanced way of dealing with sensitive health data.

It is planned that blockchain technology will help not only to improve the process of sharing this information in the industry but also to make health claims and transactions more efficient which will ensure a better patient experience.

Health Utility Network

The list of companies involved in the project includes some prominent names in health insurance like Aetna, Anthem Inc, and Health Care Service Corp as well as financial services company PNC Bank.

It is said the Health Utility Network will welcome some new members in the nearest future. It is expected that some other health organizations, healthcare providers, startups, and technology companies will join the project.

Commenting their new initiative, Barbara Hayes, IBM general manager for payers at IBM Watson Health, said:

“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.”

Chris Ward, a treasury management unit executive at PNC Bank, the bank that supported the project, also spoke about the benefits that their network is intended to bring to the industry:

“Using this technology, we can remove friction, duplication, and administrative costs that continue to plague the industry.”

He also explained that this cooperation of the healthcare companies with IBM will facilitate the process of handling payments for both patients and services providers.

Similar Initiatives

Nevertheless, it’s worth mentioning that IBM is not the first tech company to try to bring the potential of the emerging technology to the healthcare sphere. That’s why it should be quite expectable for IBM to face with comparatively serious competition in this segment.

For example, another blockchain alliance was formed in April 2018. Two healthcare insurance giants, Humana Inc and UnitedHealthcare Group, teamed up with data providers Quest Diagnostics, Multiplan and Optum to find out in what way the technology could be applied to ensure access to the most current healthcare provider information in directories.

There was also another healthcare blockchain known under the name ProCredEx. It was launched in November 2018. It is focused on storing and sharing information about medical and dental practitioners in order to make it available for patients. It is believed that such a database will help to cut down time and costs within the industry.

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