Cigna and Sentara Healthcare Joins IBM’s Blockchain Ecosystem For Healthcare Industry

Tech giant IBM has added two healthcare companies to its recently announced blockchain initiative that aims to improve transparency and interoperability in the healthcare industry.

Last month, IBM, in partnership with PNC Bank and three healthcare giants – Aetna, Anthem and Health Care Service Corporation, announced the development of a blockchain network that will be designed to benefit multiple members of the healthcare ecosystem in a highly secure, shared environment. The goal of the network is to enable organizations to build, share and deploy solutions using blockchain that drive digital transformation in the healthcare industry.

In its latest announcement, IBM said that Cigna and Sentara Healthcare will joining the blockchain initiative to address a range of industry challenges, including promoting efficient claims and payment processing, enabling secure and frictionless healthcare information exchanges, and ways to maintain current and accurate provider directories.

“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,” said Mark Boxer, executive vice president and chief information officer, 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.”

The companies believe that a lack of trust between payers and providers can impede efforts to move toward alternative payment models, which is one of several areas of focus for the healthcare ecosystem. IBM said that it started collaborating with PNC Bank 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.

“The distinctive attributes of blockchain is enabling collaborations between parties that could not easily take place previously, and with that entirely new business models are emerging,” said Lori Steele, general manager for Healthcare and Life Sciences for IBM. “The byproduct of this is the ability to link organizations in real-time and in ways that can ultimately improve the patient experience.”

The companies further said that engaging additional members across partner levels and industry perspectives will increase the network’s reach and ability to deliver high value solutions.

“Sentara is dedicated to leveraging Information Technology to continuously improve health every day,” said Mike Reagin, Sentara Healthcare senior vice president and chief information and innovation officer. “Blockchain is poised to help solve some of healthcare’s most crucial data security, and IT interoperability issues as we look to implement new customer-centric healthcare delivery models.”

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