Five of the largest healthcare organizations in the US announced that they will all be participating in a pilot program using blockchain based systems to improve the efficiency and quality of their data. United Healthcare, Humana, MultiPlan, Quest Diagnostics, and Optum, announced last Monday that they would be taking the first steps towards running their data systems on the blockchain.
The goal of this pilot is to test the efficiency of blockchain based data storage over that of the current system. It is estimated that the current data system costs over $2.1 billion per year to manage, with highly ineffective data storage methods. Currently, all the parties involved with handling patient information, including physicians, hospitals, and diagnostic service providers, must hold separate copies of patient data. This can create confusion and delays when the data is needed from one or more parties to verify health claims.
According to a statement released by the companies involved:
"The pilot will examine how sharing data across health care organizations on blockchain technology can improve data accuracy, streamline administration and improve access to care."
This is the first time blockchain technology has been used in the US healthcare industry. The usage of blockchain based data storage systems could significantly reduce the amount of deaths caused by medical errors. The current data spread between different providers (like the physician, hospital, pharmacy, and diagnostic information service) is quite large, and miscommunications between these parties can be deadly. The blockchain will reduce these errors and ultimately save lives.
The pilot will focus on a few sets of basic patient information to begin with, and if the pilot is successful more information will be introduced to the blockchain system on a rolling basis.