Five leading US healthcare companies – MultiPlan, Humana, Quest Diagnostics, and UnitedHealth Group’s subsidiaries Optum and UnitedHealthcare – announced on Monday the launch of a blockchain pilot. The experiment is aimed at boosting data quality and cutting administrative costs related to changes in a healthcare company’s demographic data.
The five organizations will test blockchain to see whether it could ensure high accuracy in data sharing, streamline administrative processes, and provide better access to care.
Currently, physicians, managed care organizations, diagnostic service providers, and other healthcare system players store separate data sets. This can often result in errors and significant differences in information. Blockchain would enable a unified platform where data can be held securely and accessed by trusted entities under certain conditions. It can also reduce maintenance costs. Today, about $2.1 billion is spent each year on maintaining provider data.
Michael Jacobs, senior distinguished engineer at Optum, said in a message to Cryptovest that the pilot would run over the summer and the first results are expected in the fall. Based on the outcomes, the group will determine whether to continue with blockchain implementation.
Jacobs explained how patients could benefit from the blockchain adoption:
“Patients may see improved quality in the provider directories, enabling them to seek care more quickly and efficiently. Provider data is an essential part of today’s health system, feeding many activities such as claims and payment processing. Having more accurate data could equate to less time spent on these activities for stakeholders across the system.”
David Murtagh, VP of operations at MultiPlan, revealed that the company was excited to take part in the pilot and consolidate its relationships with the alliance members.
“We’re looking forward to exploring how blockchain technology can make the process more efficient while reducing costs, ideally to build investments that can enhance the provider and patient experiences,” Murtagh said.
MultiPlan is a New York-based company that provides healthcare cost management solutions. It leverages innovative technologies and data analysis tools to help healthcare payers manage the cost of care.
According to Pam Walker, senior director of MultiPlan’s marketing & communication, the experiment aims to “uniformly measure the quality and cost implications of sharing provider demographic changes across a permissioned blockchain.”
“We expect patients to benefit from access to the most accurate, up-to-date provider information through the pilot program,” she told Cryptovest via email.
According to the second round of online provider directory reviews carried out by Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, 52% of the provider directory locations listed had at least one inaccuracy, like an incorrect phone number, physical address, or a provider’s availability, as noted by Walker.
This is not the first instance of blockchain being explored in the US healthcare sector. Last year, we reported that IBM Watson Health partnered with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the US national public health institute, to assess the benefits of blockchain in the healthcare system.