Cigna, Sentara Healthcare join blockchain collaborative

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A major health insurer and an integrated delivery system are among the latest organizations to join a blockchain collaborative aiming to bring the technology to healthcare.

Cigna and Sentara Healthcare have joined with the collaborative, which is seeking to create a blockchain network with the goal of enabling healthcare companies to build, share and deploy digital solutions for business issues, including promoting efficient claims and payment processing, enabling secure and frictionless healthcare information exchanges and maintaining current and accurate provider directories.

The network also includes three other insurers— Aetna, Anthem and the Chicago-based Health Care Service Corporation. Other original members include PNC Bank and IBM.

"We are committed to improving the healthcare consumer experience and making our healthcare system work more effectively," says Claus Jensen, chief technology officer for Aetna. "Through the application of blockchain technology, we'll work to improve data accuracy for providers, regulators and other stakeholders, and give our members more control over their own data."

Also See: Aetna, Anthem, HCSC enter blockchain collaboration

Announced earlier this year, the original members of the collaborative indicated that they would add additional collaborators to the network, including other health organizations, healthcare providers, startups and technology companies, as well as outline potential early use cases and pilots.

One of several areas of focus for the healthcare ecosystem will be new ways to address payments. For example, a lack of trust between payers and providers can impede efforts to move toward alternative payment models. IBM and PNC have begun collaborating on a way to use blockchain to create shared efficiencies, drive adoption of bundled payments as a reimbursement mechanism and help improve the value of care.

"We came together to create the health utility network realizing the need to improve transparency and interoperability in the industry in order to improve healthcare for all Americans," says Rajeev Ronanki, chief digital officer of Anthem. "Engaging additional members across partner levels and industry perspectives will increase the network's reach and ability to deliver high value solutions."

At its core, blockchain is about strengthening trust in data. It's a digital record keeping system that creates a new way to share and secure data across a business network. The ability to do this in real time, while maintaining permissioned access, data ownership and governance across many disparate parties, is what makes it so transformative.

"Cigna sees enormous potential for blockchain to improve the way we harness insights across the health care ecosystem to better serve our customers and communities," says Mark Boxer, executive vice president and chief information officer for Cigna. "By working together, and joining the health utility network as a founding member, we have a significant opportunity to create new efficiencies that will lead to improved whole person health and wellness outcomes for our customers and clients."

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