Can blockchain improve provider directories? 5 insights from Humana, EY Advisory

Humana and EY Advisory outlined an "aspirational vision" for how blockchain might be able to improve maintenance of provider directories in a white paper released June 11.

Blockchain represents a permanent distributed ledger of online transactions or exchanges. Unlike a traditional database that is centrally located and maintained by one party, a blockchain record is shared among a network of users.

Here are five insights Humana and EY Advisory shared in the white paper:

1. Provider directories play an important role in the healthcare landscape, enabling health plan members to search for in-network physicians. However, recent research has suggested half of provider records in these directories have at least one error in demographic data.

2. Administrators from separate health plans typically work individually to curate provider data — despite the fact providers are often in-network for multiple plans. These provider data management activities represent one "example of the inefficiency and waste in healthcare," according to the white paper.

3. To address inefficiencies in today's provider data management processes, Humana and EY Advisory suggested creating a crowdsourced provider data marketplace to enable plan administrators and third-party data sources to collaborate on high-quality provider data.

4. Blockchain provides an attractive way to share information across a data marketplace by connecting all participants and sharing ownership among them. "This shared ownership is highly desirable to competitors looking to collaborate," the white paper reads.

5. Humana and EY Advisory suggested that revamping provider directories is a "reasonably low-risk, but impactful, place to start testing a blockchain-powered healthcare data marketplace." Findings from this project could inform future data management initiatives using more sensitive types of information.

"Dozens of healthcare applications are appropriate for a data marketplace, but the provider data use case was a strategic choice in that provider directory data is public and relatively benign, making experimentation with a new approach reasonably low-risk," the white paper reads.

To access Humana and EY Advisory's white paper, click here.

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