7 Thoughts on the Importance and Future of Blockchain in RCM

Kelly Gooch and Akanksha Jayanthi | Becker's Health IT & CIO Review | December 30, 2016

Blockchain is being put forward as a new means to potentially help solve interoperability challenges in healthcare. Blockchain technology is a permanent log of online transactions or exchanges. It emerged in 2009 as the foundation for trading the digital currency bitcoin.

The entire log is duplicated across a network of computers. Users interactions on the network can add to the record of transactions. Similar to a database, the blockchain transactions are recorded in a predictable way that contains a light amount of data and can be searched and audited. Unlike a database, which is centrally located and managed by a central authority, this log is shared and managed by the network itself. New transactions must be approved and verified by the network in a process called "consensus," a rule set that all the computers follow.

Each transaction is cryptographically linked to the transactions before it, creating a permanent chain of events. This technology is a record-keeping system for peer-to-peer networks, like shared accounting software. Blockchain technology has been explored by financial incumbents since 2014 when Nasdaq announced a partnership with Chain, a blockchain company...