Hospitals, insurers, labs, researchers and others are exploring ways blockchain technology can improve business and clinical operations. Many believe the technology could sharply boost business and clinical efficiency while providing data-security benefits.
Originally developed for the digital currency Bitcoin, blockchains provide a highly secure digital ledger of economic transactions that can be programmed to record financial transactions and virtually anything of value. Blockchains are ideal for storing highly sensitive, personal data, which, when smartly processed with artificial intelligence, can unlock value and convenience. Yet, skeptics have tempered enthusiasm about blockchain technology's value to health care, citing privacy issues related to the sharing of patient records and other data across businesses.
PwC, one of health care's largest consulting firms, recently warned that many providers, payers and other companies will lose out on blockchain benefits if they are slow to change or embrace the technology. A white paper from Deloitte, meanwhile, explains how blockchain technology can improve data interoperability, supply-chain and revenue-cycle management.
Teaming Up on Blockchain Research
Humana, MultiPlan, Quest Diagnostics, Optum and UnitedHealthcare, are using blockchain technology in a pilot to explore ways to improve data quality and reduce administrative costs associated with changes to physician directories. Phoenix-based Arizona Care Network, an accountable care organization, will pilot Solve.Care's blockchain technology, cloud computing and cognitive learning capabilities to improve care delivery and ease administrative burdens. Elsewhere, the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai and the Institute for Biomedical Research have launched the Center for Biomedical Blockchain Research to develop health care blockchain applications that improve care delivery and reduce costs.
Tap into Blockchain Value
Here are seven key areas health care consultants identify as potential fits for blockchain technology to improve operations:
- Leverage longitudinal health records to support innovative care delivery.
- Develop a master patient index for mismatched data sets or duplicate records.
- Create automatic claim approval or denial or to help resolve incomplete or incorrect claims information.
- Use de-identified available data to help with clinical-trial recruitment or research.
- Create data interoperability in health care information exchanges.
- Facilitate the transfer of ownership of materials across the supply chain, and to trace the process.
- Improve the validity and efficiency of the hospital revenue cycle.