Changing Healthcare with Blockchain Technology

Blockchain

Openness ensures scalability, accessibility, resiliency, and innovation, said Change Healthcare’s Aaron Symanski at Open Source Leadership Summit.

Blockchain technology is heralded to become a broadly disruptive force in the coming years. According to a Forbes story, blockchain is already revolutionizing contracts, payment processing, asset protection, and supply chain management. However, partly due to the industry’s emphasis on records, authentication and people-centric processes, healthcare is predicted to be one of the fields that blockchain will truly transform.

That was the key message at an Open Source Leadership Summit keynote address titled “Blockchain Technology at Change Healthcare” by Aaron Symanski, CTO at Change Healthcare. In his talk, Symanski said that blockchain is already impacting the healthcare system.

Symanski made the point that from the 1960s through now, computers, networks, mobility and automation have driven societal change, and now blockchain is set for disruption. Specifically, he said that blockchain will usher in a healthcare future where information is:

  • Immediately available
  • Identical everywhere it is stored
  • Immutable
  • User-centric and controlled by the contributor

He also emphasized that open source efforts, such as The Linux Foundation’s Hyperledger Project, are driving blockchain forward and are essential. He said that openness ensures scalability, accessibility, resiliency, and innovation. “Participating in The Hyperledger Project has made a lot of sense for us,” Symanski noted. “It protects protocol governance, node management, consensus mechanisms, and more and these are all very important in the healthcare industry.”

Trusted workflow

“Trust is very different in healthcare that it is, in say, financial applications,” he emphasized. “Healthcare is very fragmented, especially in the U.S. What is identity? Who has the right to see records? What portions of the record can a person see?”

Change Healthcare works with Hyperledger Fabric for its blockchain applications, partly because it’s a modular, extensible architecture. It has enabled smart contracts, flexible consensus management, and applicability across industries ranging from insurance to healthcare itself.

“Claims management is one of the first applications that our healthcare network has leveraged blockchain for,” Symanski said. “It helps streamline data and rights management and the platform helps manage visibility and transparency.” Hyperledger Fabric is at the core of the platform that ensures that, say, an insurance provider can process claims with Change Healthcare efficiently.

Symanski emphasized that Change Healthcare is still in the early stages of its planned use cases for blockchain. Indeed, the whole healthcare industry is. According to a report from Frost and Sullivan Research: “At its core, blockchain offers the potential of a shared platform that decentralizes health data, ensuring access control, authenticity, and integrity of protected health information. Further, the blockchain-based distributed network consensus with cryptography techniques provides an additional layer of trust to minimize cybersecurity threats for healthcare IT systems. This never-before blockchain-based trusted workflow with a “single source of truth” presents the healthcare industry with radical new possibilities for outcome-based care delivery and reimbursement models.”

Meanwhile, according to a recent post on the Hyperledger blog, “Hyperledger remains the fastest growing open source project ever hosted by The Linux Foundation.” To find out more about blockchain and Hyperledger, check out the case studies, a webinar, and training resources available from hyperledger.org.

Watch the entire Open Source Leadership Summit presentation below:

Learn more about Hyperledger in this upcoming webinar from The Linux Foundation. Join Tracy Kuhrt & David Boswell, Tuesday, April 17, 2018 at 10:00am Pacific as they discuss the various Hyperledger projects and how to get involved.

Sam Dean

Sam Dean

Sam is a freelance writer for The Linux Foundation.
Sam Dean