Aetna, Ascension join blockchain pilot project to address provider data issues

Aetna and St. Louis-based Ascension, the nation's largest nonprofit health system, have joined a blockchain technology-driven effort to improve data quality and reduce administrative costs related to updating and maintaining provider demographic data.

The Synaptic Health Alliance pilot project, launched in April, also includes UnitedHealth Group and its subsidiary, Optum; Humana; Secaucus, N.J.-based Quest Diagnostics; and MultiPlan.

Aetna and Ascension said the alliance is looking at how blockchain technology could help ensure up-to-date healthcare provider information is available in health plan provider directories, so patients can have the most accurate information possible.

They said the process of maintaining updated provider directories is a challenging and complex issue for healthcare organizations. Each year, hospitals, physicians and insurers spend $2.1 billion acquiring and maintaining provider data, according to Ascension and Aetna, which cite a Health Plan Week article.

"Ascension is pleased to be a founding member of Synaptic Health Alliance, and excited about the ways the work the alliance is undertaking will enable provider information to be leveraged in a more effective, efficient, quality-focused way," said Gerry Lewis, Ascension senior vice president and CIO. "The alliance's efforts could revolutionize the way the healthcare industry leverages data across the continuum of care by enabling horizontal data sharing across all points of the system, which may lead to an improvement in the way our overall healthcare system delivers care to everyone."

More information about the alliance is available here.

Alyssa Rege contributed to this story.


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