SubHero Banner

Health care is an industry plagued by data silos. Until blockchain, no technology has been able to solve the issue of data sharing beyond system or enterprise borders while keeping all those silos in sync. As lines continue to blur across the health care sector, data accuracy and sharing are becoming the linchpins of cost containment.

Many speculate that blockchain will solve the complex data problems in health care. It will prevent data breaches. It will shift the ownership of personal health data from health systems to consumers. It will give consumers transparency of their entire record in one single source of truth. It will facilitate collaboration among traditional competitors to streamline business processes. The potential is alluring. Thus, health care organizations are eager to learn how much value they can gain from this technology.

Video Component

[Optum Logo]

Blockchain is getting a lot of attention lately. But what can it really do for health care?

Blockchain may be one of the most revolutionary internet technologies yet;
enabling loosely-coupled organizations to share and process information in ways that haven’t been possible before.
So, what is a blockchain?
It’s a shared, distributed ledger on which transactions are chronologically recorded in a cooperative and tamper-proof manner.
Blockchain technology offers excellent resiliency, security and data integrity to your business - by creating a synchronized, single source of truth drastically reducing cost tied to reconciliation and building trust and data shared among all health care players.
It also reduces the need for manual processes by automating important business transactions through the use of smart contracts.

The potential for blockchain technology in health care is staggering.

Administrative burden will be reduced for providers, helping them focus on what’s important - the patient.

Payers will realize cost savings because claims processing, coordination of benefits and payments will be streamlined.

Patients will be able to access all of their health care history no matter what plan or doctor was involved—and control who can see their information.

Medications will be safer because blockchain technology will keep counterfeit or inferior materials from entering the manufacturing supply chain.

Blockchain is much more than a technology.

It’s an opportunity.

An opportunity to improve patient care and reduce the cost of health care by changing how information is shared, stored and processed.
We are seizing that opportunity and leading the health care blockchain revolution.
Are you ready to join us?
[Optum Logo]

Horizontal Rule

What you need to know about Blockchain for health care

Accordion Block
  • Blockchain is already in its third generation.

    • It started in 2008 as the tracking database for bitcoin ownership, and companies soon began using blockchain for inter-organizational cooperation.
    • Blockchain 2.0 gave rise to “Ethereum.” This is an open-source, public blockchain platform that enables small computer programs called “smart contracts.” Smart contracts enable exchange of new financial instruments that have attributes similar to currencies like the dollar, commodities like gold and securities like stocks.
    • Today, with blockchain in its third phase of maturity, businesses are experimenting with it to track, trade, find, collect, synchronize and validate data.

    Key to these efforts is finding ways to drive out costs associated with data management.

  • There’s a lot of hype and misinformation about what blockchain can and can’t do today.

    • Blockchain is a digital ledger of transactions that are chronologically recorded and tamper-resistant.
    • Blockchain makes it possible to trace information back to its original source and view every detail in between.
    • It simplifies commercial relationships by letting an organization track and trade something of value (such as data) without a middleman.
    • Blockchain enables organizations to collaborate on problems that post little or no risk to competitive positions. But even where there’s willingness, we may need to create incentives to participate.
    • Blockchain use cases should be strongly vetted to confirm the ROI for participating organizations.
    • When organizations strip away blockchain hype and understand its utility for solving data quality problems, they can begin to experiment.

    We believe payers will take the lead and providers will join them to streamline back-office processes. Consumers will follow in the long-term as their records become available.

  • What’s unique about this technology is that blockchain requires density of adoption. That is, it requires a group of organizations who are willing to cooperate to test the efficacy of the technology.

    Start by finding use cases that reflect business problems shared by many organizations in your ecosystem. Identify those that will benefit from working together to solve common data-sharing problems.

    Ask these questions to guide how you identify a use case:

    • Where is the overlap of data and data processes between our organizations?
    • Where would the addition of mutually beneficial processes help?
    • Where are the barriers or dependencies the lowest?

    The answers will help you hone in on a use case that is productive and doable in the near term. It will identify those that can deliver value to all participants.

  • Blockchain works when organizations come together to share and audit information and automate common processes.

    • The first step is evaluating the groups of organizations or types of organizations that will benefit from a single source of truth.
    • As you build an alliance, you want to make sure that there’s a good cultural fit among members. Look at their appetite for early adoption of new technology, and look for people who are open and willing to learn.

    We often start with IT professionals because the solution requires technological expertise to establish a blockchain node.

    In particular, CIOs will need to educate their leadership on the benefits of joining forces with other organizations to tackle data problems and costs together.

  • Blockchain requires a different business mindset. Blockchain technology will put you in the race. Relationships will get you across the finish line. All alliance members are responsible for the result of the alliance, but none owns the blockchain. Instead, every participant is working together to solve an issue for the industry.

    • Go to prospective members with a high-level conceptual overview.
    • Present one that clearly demonstrates the mutual benefit of blockchain to solving a specific business issue.
    • Define how the collaboration will work. Use a memorandum of understanding that defines roles and resource commitments.
    • Tools can include project charters, governance processes and decision-making frameworks.

    Ultimately, these efforts will culminate in a definitive legal agreement.

    The beauty of blockchain is that it facilitates trust in the data. But that’s only the starting point. Defining the business benefits and building a business case for a blockchain project is critical to rallying support inside alliance organizations. When the rubber hits the road, it still comes down to:

    • Creating a well-defined set of objectives
    • Clarity around project scope
    • An efficient organizational structure for the alliance
    • Open and transparent communications
    • A use case that will deliver return on investment for all alliance parties


Our IT experts know how to help you plan for a future with blockchain.

Check out the podcasts

Horizontal Rule

optum perspective


Blockchain has the potential to change the game for health systems, health plans and individuals:

  • Health systems will eliminate the costs of data replication and reconciliation
  • Health plans will benefit from lower administrative costs and more efficient workflows
  • Individuals will have access to their full health history in one single source of truth

Data-driven insights will change health care

Learn how infusing OptumIQ in all of our products and services supports our mission of moving the health system forward.

Learn more


Technology can expand human potential

See how we're applying new and emerging technologies in health care.

Learn more

Icon Picker V2

Want to connect with one of our tech experts?

Contact us