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Change Healthcare launching enterprise-scale blockchain solution

by Thomas Dworetzky , Contributing Reporter
Change Healthcare has launched what it calls the “first blockchain solution for enterprise-scale use in health care.”

“We are excited to work alongside our customers and partners to make blockchain real in health care,” said Neil de Crescenzo, CEO of Change Healthcare. “As today’s health care system becomes more value-based, it’s essential that we aggressively and pervasively introduce new technologies into health care at scale —whether they leverage blockchain, artificial intelligence, or other emerging capabilities with the potential to improve outcomes and efficiencies. We are initially introducing blockchain technology to create a distributed ledger that makes claims processing and secure payment transactions work more efficiently and cost-effectively for all health care stakeholders.”

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The plan is to allow payers and providers to boost revenue cycle efficiency, improve real-time analytics, cut costs, and create innovative new services.

The health care IT firm's Intelligent Healthcare Network handles 12 billion health care transactions worth over $2 trillion in claims yearly.

De Crescenzo announced the news at his keynote address at the Distributed: Health 2017 conference today in Nashville, Tenn.

The company will work with other groups such as the Linux Foundation’s Hyperledger project “to make the benefits of blockchain technology broadly available and develop additional, advanced use cases.”

Plans call for the Intelligent Healthcare Network to support blockchain transactions by the end of 2017, using Hyperledger Fabric 1.0, an open source blockchain framework and one of the Hyperledger projects hosted by the Linux Foundation.

“Change Healthcare is uniquely positioned to lead blockchain innovation for health care, and we are excited to participate in this transformative undertaking with them,” said Brian Behlendorf, executive director, Hyperledger in the statement. “With its security, transparency of transactions, and ability for all stakeholders to access the same information, blockchain technology has potential to increase payment accuracy and revenue velocity, which will benefit payers, providers, and consumers themselves.”

In January, blockchain technology hit the headlines when IBM and the FDA agreed to collaborate on a plan to bring the approach to health care.

"The health care industry is undergoing significant changes due to the vast amounts of disparate data being generated,” Shahram Ebadollahi, vice president for innovations and chief science officer, IBM Watson Health, said in a statement, adding, “blockchain technology provides a highly secure, decentralized framework for data sharing that will accelerate innovation throughout the industry."

The initial focus of that initiative will be on oncology-related data.

Blockchain technology, devised by Satoshi Nakamoto in 2008, is most famously associated with bitcoin currency. Blockchains are databases that are distributed over a globally-decentralized network of computers, in which encrypted records (blocks) are linked and time-stamped.

Blockchains are very secure because they can't be altered once recorded.

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