Why Credentialing Is an Early Use Case for Blockchain:
Provider Identity (ex. credentialing)
○ Technical structure is understood
○ Reason for blockchain is understood
○ Application layer tools exist
○ Data is not toxic
○ Understood how to “SKU” the digital artifacts
○ Understood search & discovery
○ High ROI
○ Lots of spend / inefficiencies on both sides of market
○ Large businesses with innovation budgets / resources
○ Available supply
○ Pent up demand
It is no surprise that these two first consortia (Synaptic and ProCredEx) focused on concepts related to physician identity. The problems of directories and credentialing (which are related but not the same) are a priority for their target market and have a clear ROI for both sides of the marketplace. No one believes that the current, centralized, siloed solutions are adequate. It is very clear after 20+ years of trying that health systems and payers working individually cannot solve this problem. Innovation in this area had stalled while the need for a solution has grown because of telemedicine, disaster response, revenue cycle needs and value-based care. A jointly operated industry utility model represents an exciting, new approach. It helps that the data is largely public and non-sensitive. The introduction of Blockchain and Distributed Ledger Technology (DLT) introduced a new solution to this old problem of trusting a physician’s identity.
Now, in 2019, we have seen five new healthcare consortia announce their members. Two recently announced consortia, MediLedger and RemediChain, are focused on tracking drugs through the supply chain. At a high level, this use case involves registering the “fingerprint” of a pharmaceutical product and tracking the handoffs from source to patient in order to secure the supply chain from fraud and counterfeit. The blockchain provides an excellent audit and compliance solution in this regard.
Another recently announced consortia, Melloddy, focuses on federated learning for drug discovery. Melloddy, which stands for “Machine Learning Ledger Orchestration for Drug Discovery” is a group of pharma, tech and university partners focusing on synchronizing the chemical libraries of the pharma companies to improve the models that predict which compounds are most promising for drug discovery. Melloddy plans to use a collaborative AI platform to allow machine learning algorithm to access the specific databases of each member, without requiring those members to aggregate their data in one single place. It’s an interesting new model for collaboration amongst competitors that uses a private blockchain to manage data security and privacy while still enabling information exchange that hopes to boost predictive performance.
Other consortia are focused on network and governance above use case and, as a result, have not yet disclosed their use case. The Health Utility Network (“HUN”) has an impressive group of participating enterprises (including Anthem, Aetna, HCSC, Cigna, PNC Bank, IBM), but has not disclosed use case specifics. The members of HUN have experienced teams of blockchain experts who are not new to blockchain and now have a network built for collaboration. The formation of HUN represents a step forward in terms of network development, a critical step in doing meaningful work. HUN took a network first, use case second approach that was reminiscent of the 2016 announcements.
Similarly, The Coalesce network is focused primarily on interoperability and data governance within the existing BCBS network but has not been public about any of the details of how that will happen and who amongst the many members of the BCBS network will participate.
These consortia are most likely weighing multiple use case pilots and keeping their options open. They may also be considering competing against one of the already announced programs.