A platform to enable the use of blockchain technology in healthcare has been introduced, with an initial pilot project testing its use in the revenue cycle.

The pilot project is intended to show the potential to use the emerging technology in managing claims throughout their lifecycle.

The initiative was announced by Gem, a company that offers an operating system that connects users to blockchain networks, which earlier this summer started a network for healthcare, called Gem Health.

At the Distributed Health conference this week, the company introduced its core product, GemOS, and said it would be first used in the pilot project for medical claims processing.

Blockchain is the technology that’s most closely associated with the Bitcoin, and it’s been playing a growing role in the financial industry. Now, there’s increased interest in applying the technology in healthcare. Many believe it could help answer many of the vexing questions in healthcare regarding keeping better track of patients’ electronic records and improving the security with which they’re shared.

Blockchain operates as a distributed, secure transaction ledger that uses open-source technology to maintain data. Records are shared and distributed over many computers of entities that do not know each other; records can be time-stamped and signed using a private key to prevent tampering.

Gem says its platform is modular and vendor agnostic and can connect proprietary technology to shared networks, and it can enable custom logic development for companies that are developing scalable blockchain applications for health, finance, insurance and identity.

The Revenue Cycle Management pilot runs on GemOS and is supported by the Gem Health Network, a federated blockchain designed to support specific use case development using GemOS. Among the first participants is a global commercial bank with other leading companies seeking to achieve cross-industry data and process integrity, Gem said, although declining to identify the participants.

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“The vast amount of data that flows in and out of a simple medical claim creates impact beyond that workflow,” says Micah Winkelspecht, founder and CEO of Gem. “Our partners want to use this data to solve real problems that affect the industry today, and we believe the solution requires network integrity that is independent of a central administrator.”

Winkelspecht says healthcare companies need proof that blockchain technology can be applied to real problems, which requires targeting a single business use case and scaling it through its network of stakeholders.

“We are using GemOS to create a pilot network around a specific use case that can be scaled into a full ecosystem,” says Winkelspecht. “That is when blockchain-enabled business logic can begin to flow between market partners and unlock value.”

Gem foresees use case-driven development process becoming standard for scoping and scaling the next wave of blockchain applications for enterprise, consortia, working groups, and consulting companies alike.

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