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Blockchain in healthcare and insurance | Health

When one thinks of blockchain, cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin, Ethereum, Zcash usually come to mind. However, blockchain does not necessarily have to pertain solely to cryptocurrencies.  Various industries across the world are leveraging blockchain as part of their digital transformation process and integrating it into their solutions and strategies.

For example, launched in Singapore in August, Vitana demonstrates a first-of-its-kind use of blockchain technology in the health insurance sector, developed through collaboration between IT services and consulting company Cognizant, insurance provider Metlife, and various other parties. Part of the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS)’s regulatory sandbox, Vitana is Singapore’s first dedicated insurance product offering financial protection for women diagnosed with gestational diabetes.

Healthcare Innovation speaks with Indrani Saha, Technology Head, Blockchain Practice, Cognizant, who shares her insights on the challenges companies face when leveraging blockchain technology, best practices for success implementation of blockchain, and “codifying trust” through blockchain technology.

How does blockchain technology make insurance more convenient, fast and secure for consumers?

Indrani: In today’s world, people expect experiences to be simple, automated, digital, and most importantly, secure. Blockchain technology can help insurance companies overcome today’s challenges and create transparent operations built on trust and stability. One of the biggest advantages of blockchain is the way it “codifies trust”. Essentially, blockchain offers a decentralized platform for applications that run exactly as programmed without any chance of fraud, censorship and third-party interference.

By leveraging blockchain, insurers also have the potential to dramatically reduce operating costs by automating the manual tasks involved in requesting, exchanging and entering data in areas such as underwriting, claims and reinsurance, thus speeding up processing times to make for a faster customer experience.

One such use case is Vitana, a smart blockchain-enabled insurance system, designed to securely connect to customers’ electronic medical records via their mobile device to issue a policy within minutes. It triggers an automatic payout upon diagnosis, without the need to make a claim, making the whole experience as seamless as possible.

How are patient privacy concerns addressed with Vitana?

Indrani: Patient privacy was a key priority in designing Vitana. Data privacy in blockchain-based applications should be treated in the same way as it’s treated with other technologies, and it should be built into the product design right from the start.

For Vitana, in order to address patient privacy concerns and offer improved data security, the underwriting process is designed to run within the mobile app on the patient’s device, ensuring customer information is not available to other parties.  Additionally, personal information is pseudonym-ised, if it needs to be stored in the blockchain ledger. Thus, complete privacy on sensitive customer health data is ensured.

What are the common challenges that healthcare or insurance providers face when trying to leverage blockchain technology?

Indrani: Blockchain is poised to reinvigorate the healthcare industry by streamlining operations, enabling data to be shared seamlessly with external stakeholders, integrating patient medical records and creating new business models. However, unleashing blockchain’s potential in healthcare will require organizations to address significant challenges.

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