Change Healthcare bolsters existing blockchain platform with PokitDok acquisition

Change Healthcare has purchase PokitDok for an undisclosed sum. (Pixabay/rawpixel)

McKesson-owned health IT company Change Healthcare is buying a blockchain startup's assets for an undisclosed sum. 

Change Healthcare announced its purchase of PokitDok on Tuesday following a report by CNBC that the health IT vendor was in discussions to acquire the company that specializes in blockchain for healthcare. 

As part of the deal, Change Healthcare purchased the company's intellectual property and the PokitDok team. Change will integrate PokitDok APIs into its "Intelligent Healthcare Network," adding "new capabilities for digital health, telemedicine, and other new, disruptive care models." The network serves 2,200 government and payer connections alongside 5,500 hospitals and 900,000 physicians. 

The acquisition adds to Change Healthcare's existing blockchain platform, which it rolled out across its enterprise in 2017 to address administrative claims management. Last month, the company announced an agreement with TIBCO software to build the first "smart contract system" for healthcare using blockchain technology to automate transactions. That solution is aimed at simplifying manual administrative interactions between payers and providers.

RELATED: Aetna, Ascension join blockchain alliance targeting provider directories

"This acquisition is about practical innovation to create a more connected, transparent and efficient healthcare system where patients control their own information," Kris Joshi, Ph.D., executive vice president and president of network solutions at Change Healthcare said in a statement. "As the leader in blockchain for healthcare and with one of the most extensive open API marketplaces available, with PokitDok we are bringing together synergistic assets and technical expertise for delivering additional capabilities to our customers and accelerated value to digital health markets."

Launched in 2011, PokitDok has generated more than $55 million in venture funding. The acquisition comes as payers and providers are increasingly exploring the use of blockchain technology to tackle costly and time-consuming administrative tasks. Aetna and Ascension recently joined a blockchain alliance launched earlier this year by UnitedHealth, Quest Diagnostics and Humana aimed at improving the accuracy of provider directories. 

WellCare and Spectrum Health have also joined a new pilot project launched by Hashed Health's ProCredEx to simplify the physician credentialing process. These appear to be several of the more promising use cases for blockchain technology in healthcare, though skepticism of the technology runs deep and there has been little evidence that the distributed ledger technology can effectively solve those administrative burdens.