by Lumai Mubanga
The main challenges affecting health care institutions, especially ones where they have diverse clientele dotted in different locations is keeping trusted data in sync. With thousands of payments and claims to be made each day, they need a system that can quickly process, sync, minimize any serious errors, and provide an accurate record of trusted data.
Previous IT systems had their own limitations. For example, some had consistent data reconciliation errors, ineffectiveness and delays in processing claims as demanded.
A Blockchain-based solution was formulated in the US by a company called Change HealthCare. As a pioneering initiative, the company set to use an enterprise blockchain-based solution designed to speed up the claims life cycle while remaining transparent and secure. Due to the complexity of the system, the proposed system needed the following characteristics:
- Provide a trusted system of identity.
- Preserve the chronology and integrity of data while remaining transparent and accessibility to payers.
- Decrease the cost of administering claims while increasing the speed of processing.
- Infuse other innovative technological advances such as artificial intelligence, to build a more efficient, collaborative and patient-centric health care system.
- And most importantly, automate most of the processes.
The points outlined above suite well into the blockchain design model. However, it was a question of which model will suit best? Bear in mind the many blockchain solutions around such as Ethereum, bitcoin networks and hyper ledger among others. The success of the system would depend on the perfect choice to march the demands of the new system
Enters Hyper ledger block chain technology
Change Healthcare settled on the Hyper ledger blockchain technology for this health care solution for obvious reasons. First, it had to be a permissioned blockchain because clients and customers need to be authenticated in a kind of KYC arrangement. The platform also needed to support thousands of clients across different geographical locations and needed to be scalable. The system also needs to use smart contracts for automation as well as abilities to process thousands of requests quickly.
Proof of concept
Change Healthcare, a U.S. based Healthcare solutions provider operates a healthcare network linking 900,000 doctors and over 5,000 hospitals to 2,200 payers. This is by any measure, one of the largest health care network. For example, in 2017-18, the network handled nearly 14 billion healthcare transactions and claims worth one trillion U.S. dollars. Change Healthcare was determined to demonstrate the feasibility of using a blockchain to process hundreds of healthcare transactions per second. To achieve this, they defined specific requirements for a blockchain platform for healthcare claims, and then choose the best platform for this use case, which was Hyperledger Fabric. They then tested the system with millions of transactions a day and the results were amazing and insightful.
While the actual implementation of the platform took some months, the network demonstrated capabilities of handling close to 50 million transactions a day with throughput up to 550 transactions a second. That is enough capacity to handle all claims activity that occurs on the Change Healthcare network.
If there are any sections of society still doubting blockchain technology, the above is verifiable information to help change the mindset.