Cigna and Sentara Healthcare Expand Blockchain-Based Ecosystem for Healthcare Industry

SAN FRANCISCO, CA — IBM has announced that Cigna and Sentara Healthcare have joined a new health utility network using blockchain. The aim of the network is to convene a broad ecosystem of healthcare organizations in a highly secure, shared environment with the goal of enabling organizations to build, share and deploy solutions using blockchain that drive digital transformation in the industry.

The network also includes Aetna, Anthem, Health Care Service Corporation, and PNC Bank. Together they will explore ways that blockchain can address a range of industry challenges, including promoting efficient claims and payment processing, enabling secure and frictionless healthcare information exchanges, and ways to maintain current and accurate provider directories.

At its core, blockchain is about strengthening trust in data. It’s a digital record keeping system that creates a new way to share and secure data across a business network. The ability to do this in real time, while maintaining permissioned access, data ownership and governance across many disparate parties, is what makes it so transformative.

“Cigna sees enormous potential for blockchain to improve the way we harness insights across the health care ecosystem to better serve our customers and communities,” said Mark Boxer, Executive Vice-President and Chief Information Officer for Cigna. “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.”

“Sentara is dedicated to leveraging Information Technology to continuously improve health every day,” said Mike Reagin, Sentara Healthcare’s Senior Vice-President and Chief Information and innovation officer. “Blockchain is poised to help solve some of healthcare’s most crucial data security, and IT interoperability issues as we look to implement new customer-centric healthcare delivery models.”

“The distinctive attributes of blockchain is enabling collaborations between parties that could not easily take place previously, and with that entirely new business models are emerging,” added Lori Steele, General Manager for Healthcare and Life Sciences for IBM. “The byproduct of this is the ability to link organizations in real-time and in ways that can ultimately improve the patient experience.”

One of several areas of focus for the healthcare ecosystem will be new ways to address payments. For example, a lack of trust between payers and providers can impede efforts to move toward alternative payment models. IBM and PNC have begun collaborating on a way to use blockchain to create shared efficiencies, drive adoption of bundled payments as a reimbursement mechanism, and help improve the value of care. The two organizations are scheduled to demonstrate the solution during the HIMSS Conference. The business model of the healthcare blockchain network is predicated on a commitment to open and inclusive participation. More members expect to be added including other health organizations, providers, startups and ISVs, and together members will expand use cases that can benefit the healthcare industry.

About Cigna; Cigna Corporation is a global health service company dedicated to improving the health, well-being and peace of mind for those we serve. Cigna delivers choice, predictability, affordability and quality care through integrated capabilities and connected, personalized solutions that advance whole person health. All products and services are provided exclusively by or through operating subsidiaries of Cigna Corporation, including Cigna Health and Life Insurance Company, Connecticut General Life Insurance Company, Life Insurance Company of North America, Cigna Life Insurance Company of New York, Express Scripts companies or their affiliates. Such products and services include an integrated suite of health services, such as medical, dental, behavioral health, pharmacy, vision, supplemental benefits, and other related products including group life, accident and disability insurance.

About Sentara Healthcare: Sentara Healthcare celebrates nearly 130 years in pursuit of its mission – they improve health every day. Named to IBM Watson Health’s 2018 “Top 15 Health Systems,” Sentara is an integrated, not-for-profit system of 12 hospitals in Virginia and Northeastern North Carolina, including a Level I trauma center, the nationally-ranked Sentara Heart Hospital, two orthopedic hospitals, accredited Sentara Cancer Network and the Sentara Neurosciences Institute. The Sentara family also includes four medical groups, Nightingale Regional Air Ambulance and ground medical transport, senior care, home care and hospice, nursing rehabilitation centers, ambulatory outpatient campuses, advanced imaging and diagnostic centers, a clinically integrated network, the Sentara College of Health Sciences and the Optima Health Plan serving 450,000 members in Virginia, North Carolina and Ohio. With nearly 28,000 employees and ranked one of Forbes “America’s Best Employers” in 2018, Sentara is strategically focused on clinical quality and safety, innovation and creating an extraordinary healthcare experience for our patients and members.