New York-based technology giant IBM is reportedly working with leading US health care providers to improve the way confidential patient information is managed. The patient data will be maintained in a database management system based on blockchain.
By participating in the initiative to better manage medical claims processes, while also making transactions more efficient, Big Blue, CVS Health and its subsidiary Aetna (acquired in November 2018) plan to transform the existing healthcare industry. Commenting on the collaborative effort to improve the management of patient data, Barbara Hayes, general manager of payers at IBM Watson Health, told CoinDesk:
IBM is one of the founding members, but all have equal participation among the founding members. It is very important because it has side by side competitors that chase huge amounts of waste in the health system; 40 cents, 50 cents per dollar.
Building an “ecosystem based on blockchain”
In addition to Aetna and CVS Health, Anthem and the Health Care Services Corporation (one of the largest health insurance companies based in the US) plan to help IBM develop a “blockchain-based ecosystem”. PNC Bank, a Pittsburgh-based holding and financial services company with more than $ 380 billion in total assets, is also part of the IBM-led initiative to leverage blockchain technology to improve existing health services.
In particular, companies seeking to adopt software programs based on IBM’s distributed ledger (DLT) technology represent approximately 100 million health care plans. In explaining how the new blockchain-enabled software will be useful, Hayes first pointed out the current problems:
In health, [there are] inefficiencies … in the clinical areas and in the administrative areas, or simply the friction that occurs in the system, which leads to a bad customer experience.
He added that improving the current health system will require the analysis of advanced predictions using the available data. Based on the results of the analysis, health professionals can work to create solutions that eliminate waste or inefficiencies in existing systems.
Change Healthcare, Hashed Health, SimplyVital also work in blockchain-based systems
According to IBM, more members are expected to join the Health Utility Network of the technology firm in the coming months. Reportedly, these new members will include other technology companies, several blockchain, and fintech startups, health care service providers and other leading health organizations.
Dr. Bill Lafontaine, general manager of intellectual property at IBM, said:
We will provide the SDK (software development kits) and other forms of link to the platform. We are leaving this very open because many of the members are bringing different technologies in which they have already been investing, so they get a faster return on that investment.
Other companies that work to better manage patient data and improve the current health care system with blockchain include Change Healthcare, Gem, Guardtime, Hashed Health, and SimplyVital.