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Big Healthcare Players to Explore Blockchain's Viability


Proponents and detractors alike agree that blockchain still lacks proven use cases in healthcare. Some major companies want to change that.

Blockchain has both cheerleaders and detractors in healthcare. It was a major buzzword at HIMSS 2018 this year in Las Vegas, Nevada. Experts throughout the health and tech worlds gave the term a mixed response: Equal parts dismissal, cautious optimism, and endorsement. No matter where they fell on the spectrum, however, most were in agreement that it still had no proven use cases.

Some major industry players might be trying to change that.

A handful of big healthcare organizations—highlighted by insurance giants Humana and UnitedHealth—announced today that they’re looking into blockchain. The quintet will be launching a pilot program “applying blockchain technology to improve data quality and reduce administrative costs associated with changes to health care provider demographic data,” according to a statement.

Testing company Quest Diagnostics and insurance coordination company MultiPlan will be joining Humana and the 2 UnitedHealth divisions (Optum and UnitedHealthcare) in the effort.

The release offers little in the way of functional details, but it notes that the healthcare industry spends over $2 billion combined each year trying to maintain provider data. The idea is that blockchain could provide secure, traceable, encrypted data linkage, which would theoretically improve data accuracy and user accountability

The statement does not offer dates, but other reporting indicates that the pilot will begin shortly, and its outcomes will be appraised in the fall.

For those who have told Healthcare Analytics News™ that the technology has potential in healthcare, validated data transfer—like the type that this new collaborative will be piloting—is touted as its most promising application. With a group of major industry players putting their resources behind it, blockchain’s potential might become clearer by the end of the year. That, or its detractors will just gain more ammunition.

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Related Coverage:

Checking the Pulse of Blockchain in Healthcare

Dissecting the HIMSS Blockchain Buzz

Blockchain: Hype is Here, Use Cases Aren't

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