Podcast: What is Blockchain Anyway and How Will It Transform Healthcare?


Blockchain 101, what the industry can learn from consumers’ health hacks, and the key to successful incumbent-innovator partnerships. All in 23 minutes.

Chris Kay

2 min read

What exactly is blockchain, anyway? And how can it transform the healthcare experience?

In this episode of the Oliver Wyman Health podcast, Chris Kay, Humana’s Chief Innovation Officer, and Sam Glick, partner in the Health & Life Sciences practice of Oliver Wyman, discuss the basics of blockchain and how it might be deployed in healthcare. They also explore where healthcare can be “radically simplified” and how health companies can take inspiration from consumers’ health hacks. Also, a how-to for incumbent-innovator collaboration.


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Episode highlights:

  • Chris asks: Instead of trying to fix an HIT infrastructure, which is trotting slowly toward interoperability, what would it be like to try to place some bets around a new model, a distributed model where data exists in a secure mode and where the blockchain ledgers and cryptography and underlying security could enable real-time access to healthcare information, real-time access to pricing, real-time access to adjudication of a claim? (6:47)
  • “We as consumers will continue to expect and demand access to our health records. Blockchain can start to enable that.” (7:34)
  • What is the potential of blockchain? To radically simplify the healthcare experience, Chris explains. “Let’s move from talking about interoperability as standards for EHR and let’s talk about interoperability in terms of transparency and a more distributed model of data.” (8:50)
  • “The passion for really deeply understanding customer needs and being empathetic in design of new solutions for them is at the root of what will transform healthcare.” (13:13)
  • “The health insurance industry grew up in a very transactional mode, and now is shifting mindset to a relationship model, one that is rooted in helping people overcome barriers that people have to their own health.” (14:52)
  • “As an industry, we have to dig much deeper into understanding the total needs of our customers. What are the needs they have in other broader, social determinants of health?” (15:28)
  • “As we talk about radical simplification, we’re looking for ways people are hacking the system and trying to simplify the experience themselves, and we’re innovating around that.” (15:50)
  • “Some of the problems we are solving, consumers are solving in their own ways, and we as an industry have an opportunity to leverage technology to radically simplify that experience.” (17:18)
  • How can incumbents partner with innovators? “Companies need to work hard at building the capabilities to partner so that you avoid the ‘impedance mismatch’ between big and small … And then be rabidly generous. As we think about the innovations we do with partners, the first question is ‘what can we learn together?’” (19:15)
  • “Co-creation is absolutely the new way. Big companies need to challenge the orthodoxy that things are invented inside, and figure out how do we learn together outside. Understand the business models and relationships and how you monetize new services; but answering questions and asking questions like ‘what do we need to learn together?’ are the first questions that unify early-stage partners.” (20:00)
  • Chris Kay