PNC, IBM, And Aetna Set To Explore Blockchain Technology For Medical Health Plans

One of the leading promoters of blockchain technology, IBM has decided to partners with major players in the healthcare space to improve how sensitive data is handled and shared making health transactions and claims more efficient. This will be made possible with blockchain technology. The announcement was that IBM has joined forces with health plan provider, Aetna, and PNC bank to close up to 100 million healthcare plans.

According to IBM, more members will join this network in the months to come. These members will come from the healthcare industry, technology industry and other startups. After the announcement, the general manager for payers at IBM Watson Health, Barbara Hayes said:

“While IBM is among the founding members, it is not the only one with a stake. Every founding member involved has an equal stake. It is vital because you don’t have side by side competitors struggling for waste in the healthcare sector 40 to 50 cents on the dollar. In the healthcare sector, these inefficiencies are found in administrative and clinical areas. Sometimes, it may be just friction in the system that ripple into bad customer experience.”

Hayes believes that transforming the healthcare sector will require going after advanced predictions and insights using accumulated data to eliminate inefficiencies and waste. In addition, the general manager of intellectual property at IBM, Dr. Bill Lafontaine, said:
“We will provide the SDKs and other requirements to link the platform. We are leaving it open because different members are bringing unique technologies that they have already started investing in giving them a faster return of investment.”

Competing Projects Abound In The Healthcare Industry

As expected, IBM isn’t the only technology firm that is trying to use the blockchain to improve the healthcare industry. There are many other prominent companies that are working on similar projects. Companies like Gem and SimplyVital, Hashed, Change Healthcare, Guardtime and many others are working on similar projects.

The healthcare sector is only second to the financial sector when it comes to leveraging blockchain technology. This is why it is no surprise that IBM is facing strong competition. In April 2018, two of the biggest players in the healthcare insurance industry, United Health Group and Humana, teamed up to host a blockchain pilot using data that was provided by Optum and Multiplan. In November, ProCredEx, another healthcare blockchain was launched. This one focuses on sharing and storing data about medical practitioners in a bid to save time and money.

In the financial sector, blockchains like Ripple and Stellar are changing the game. Last year, many banks and financial institutions started using Ripple’s xCurrent technology to make cross-border payments more efficient. This technology is used by financial institutions to communicate with other financial institutions instantly thus saving time and money during cross-border transactions.

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The head of product at PNC Bank, Chris Ward said that this new partnership with IBM will make it easy for patients to make payments and for service providers to handle them. He said that this technology is going to drastically reduce administrative cost, friction and duplication that plague the healthcare industry.

Do you believe that blockchain technology has what it takes to change the traditional healthcare system? Which company will take the lead in this process in your opinion?


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