Blockchain Technology and its Current Status in the Healthcare Industry

Blockchain technology is an anticipated medium in the healthcare industry because of its ability to secure patient data, streamline care and prevent costly mistakes. This trusted technology is a database which stores blocks of digital assets that are not copied or transferred, but distributed, which preserves the integrity of the document. With this type of security, people can feel more comfortable with how their records and personal identity information are shared and secured.

While blockchain is currently used as a way to preserve data integrity and transparency, there is exploration into utilizing it to create a network that increases ways to manage and exchange skills-based credentials. Healthcare leaders have shown interest in its potential to improve transparency and interoperability in care networks. Some organizations, such as Aetna, Cleveland Clinic and Healthcare Service Corp. plan to use blockchain to decrease administrative costs correlated with transferring data between payers and providers. Avaneer Health, a utility network created by Aetna and Healthcare Service Corp., along with IBM and PNC Bank, uses blockchain to ease the transferability of data among payers and providers. The healthcare industry is experiencing challenges in regard to unnecessary costs and inefficient payment processing and Avaneer Health’s partner companies hope it can find a solution to those challenges.

Change Healthcare, a leading healthcare technology company that focuses on simplifying and improving data services and enhancing clinical decision-making, has invested significantly in blockchain. Its first incorporation of this technology was to speed claims processing. The company has now expanded their efforts to improve healthcare payments and revenue cycle management processes. In 2017, Change Healthcare forged the use of enterprise-scale blockchain technology with Intelligent Healthcare Network™ and today, processes up to 50 million transactions daily. Through concerted efforts, they have been able to increase efficiency, which in turn lowers the cost of administering claims. A year later, Change Healthcare collaborated with TIBCO to create healthcare’s first smart contract system.

Blockchain technology is still evolving–it can be costly for industries and it takes time to work out complications to adapt to the different hospital needs–but the advantages and security it provides broadens its appeal in multiple sectors. Its impact is expected to increase exponentially in the next few years.