Change Healthcare Joins Hyperledger
On May 22nd, 2017, Change Healthcare became the first healthcare IT firm (HIT) in the U.S. to join Hyperledger, a robust, Linux-led open source blockchain developer community and consortium. With Change Healthcare’s leadership in the health sector, and Hyperledger’s leadership in the blockchain developer community, the creation and implementation of innovative blockchain-based healthcare solutions are certainly forthcoming.
Change Healthcare – HIT Analytics
Change Healthcare is a leading, independent healthcare IT analytics and solution provider. The company has the nation’s “largest financial and administrative network.” Change Healthcare’s scale and reach in the healthcare sector, which will serve to help the spread of blockchain-based solutions, are clearly borne out in the following highlights:
- 800,000 physicians served
- 12 billion transactions facilitated in 2016
- 2,100 payers connected (nearly all public and private payers in the U.S.)
- 5,500 hospitals served
Change Healthcare recently merged with McKesson Corporation’s IT arm (McKesson Technology Solutions) to create “the NEW Change Healthcare.” McKesson Corporation is a leading healthcare services and IT provider, recently ranked 5th among companies in the Fortune 500.
Having directed their attention to providing healthcare IT solutions, Change Healthcare saw a natural partner in Hyperledger. CTO Aaron Symanski emphasized that while blockchain, still in its nascent phase, holds genuine promise for “secure online transactions,” it now needs leaders in the health sector to support and employ the platform to build the healthcare solutions of the future. As Change Healthcare joins the Hyperledger consortium, Symanski joins their governing board. Hyperledger executive director, Brian Behlendorf, sees Change Healthcare as “a huge asset” in Hyperledger’s efforts to assemble a community to help bring “open blockchain tools and services” to industries such as healthcare.
Hyperledger – Open Source Blockchain Development
Hyperledger, backed by the Linux Foundation, is an open-source software project, community, incubator and consortium focused on enterprise blockchain solutions. To facilitate efficient, rapid development of open blockchain technology, Hyperledger encourages participating enterprises to make use of shared “building blocks” when developing their blockchain-based frameworks and applications.
Developers and maintainers are at their best when coding software solutions. However, they may feel intimidated and out of their depth with the larger organizational, infrastructural and legal ramifications and requirements they need to consider before taking their projects to market. To help members bridge the gap, Hyperledger, backed by the Linux Foundation, offers its members one of the world’s leading “brain trusts” for open-source projects and infrastructure.
Members will also gain access to resources to aid their marketing and PR efforts. Hyperledger highlights projects in active, or pending, status, on its flagship site Hyperledger.org. With nearly 50,000 monthly unique visitors, the Hyperledger site is a leading gathering place for blockchain developers. Hyperledger also has a blog, as well as active mailing lists and chats, that serve as an online venue for members to showcase their work while gaining insights from the greater blockchain developer community.
For those eager for face-to-face interaction, Hyperledger also welcomes project leaders to take part in Hyperledger’s conferences. These “hackfests” serve as a gathering place to meet other like-minded developers while making new headway on their projects. Hyperledger Fabric, for example, initially contributed by IBM and Digital Asset, grew out of Hyperledger’s “first hackathon.” Hyperledger’s eight “hackfests” have thus far averaged 150 conference attendees from the blockchain developer community.
As of May 22nd, 2017, Hyperledger has announced eight projects, including four frameworks and four tools. Six have graduated to active status. Prominent companies contributing or sponsoring Hyperledger projects include IBM, Intel, Hitachi, Huawei and DTCC, among others.
The future of open-source blockchain in healthcare
With the sheer reach and scale of the new Change Healthcare, the Hyperledger community should receive a genuine boost in its mission to bring open enterprise blockchain solutions to healthcare and other industries. With several like-minded projects and blockchain building blocks already in place, forthcoming Hyperledger projects sponsored or contributed by the new Change Healthcare should come to market at an accelerated pace.
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Brennan is a blockchain technical adviser in the healthcare sector and blockchain entrepreneur who has worked on developing proprietary concepts for both artificial intelligence and enterprise blockchain. He is a graduate of Rutgers University School of Health Professions where he earned a M.S. in biomedical informatics.