Blockchain Health Alliance Follows Amazon-Berkshire-JPMorgan Pact

Several major health care companies are exploring the use of blockchain technology to improve the way health care provider data are shared and managed.

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The partnership follows a separate effort announced in January by Amazon (AMZN), Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway (BRKB) and JPMorgan Chase (JPM) “to address health care for their U.S. employees, with the aim of improving employee satisfaction and reducing costs.”

This time, Humana (HUM), Quest Diagnostics (DGX), Multiplan, and UnitedHealth Group‘s (UNH) Optum and UnitedHeathcare units are embarking on a pilot program to use blockchain to “improve data quality and reduce administrative costs associated with changes to health care provider demographic data,” per a press release Monday.

The cost of various health care organizations each managing their own health care provider data — and having to resolve issues with each other when differences crop up — amounts to $2.1 billion annually, said the companies.

It’s “such a large issue that it’s really affecting access to care for many patients,” Optum engineer Mike Jacobs told CNBC.

The joint effort, which will study how blockchain can help them to tackle these issues and improve access to health care, is the latest in non-cryptocurrency companies exploring use of the ledger. While blockchain was thrust into the spotlight by its association with Bitcoin, there are a multitude of other applications for blockchain.

Microsoft (MSFT) and JPMorgan have teamed up to develop blockchain-driven financial services tools, for example.

Humana shares jumped 4.8% on the stock market today. The stock is mainly getting a bump from reports over the weekend that it is in partnership talks with Walmart (WMT), with potential for the nation’s largest brick-and-mortar retailer to acquire the health insurer.

Shares of Humana spiked above their 50-day moving average Monday and are now trading near session lows.

Quest Diagnostics fell 2.5%, and UnitedHealth rose 1.7%. Amazon lost 4.5% on more threats from President Trump. Berkshire Hathaway retreated 2.8%, and JPMorgan slipped 2.4%.

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