Health News

Cigna, Sentara join IBM blockchain health consortium


Just three weeks ago IBM unveiled a new blockchain healthcare initiative with Aetna, Anthem, Health Care Service Corporation (HCSC), and PNC Bank. Today at IBM’s Think event in San Francisco it announced that Cigna and Sentara Healthcare are joining the group. The aim is to build, share and deploy solutions to drive transformation in the industry. With Cigna joining, the group now has three of the top five U.S. national health insurers.

Insurer/Payer 2017 Revenues
United Health Group $201 billion
Anthem $90 billion
Aetna $60 billion
Humana $53 billion
Cigna $41 billion

The consortium aims to use blockchain to address claims processing, enable healthcare information exchange, and maintain provider directories.

Additionally, IBM is exploring how healthcare can exploit new payment models in collaboration with PNC. At the HIMSS conference, the two organizations plan to demonstrate a solution that enables bundled payments.

“We came together to create the health utility network realizing the need to improve transparency and interoperability in the industry in order to improve healthcare for all Americans,” said Rajeev Ronanki, chief digital officer of Anthem. “Engaging additional members across partner levels and industry perspectives will increase the network’s reach and ability to deliver high value solutions.”

“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,” said Mark Boxer, EVP and CIO, Cigna.

There’s already some overlap in blockchain activity in the health sector. For example, Change Healthcare one of the leading U.S. claims clearinghouses has been running a 30 million transaction a day blockchain for a year.

In terms of provider directories, the Synaptic Health Alliance has been working on the issue using blockchain since April last year. It has three of the big five insurers, UnitedHealth Group, Humana and Aetna. The latter joined two months ago and is also a member of the IBM group.