Health insurance giant UnitedHealth has today announced it is looking to hire a new blockchain director, in a move that has been interpreted as a vote for confidence for blockchain-based systems within the health industry.
In one of the first moves of its kind for the industry, UnitedHealth is seeking an individual to be responsible for developing blockchain platforms and associated applications, working within the company’s IT arm, Optum.
As the leading provider of health insurance in the United States, this lunge toward the blockchain is a welcome and notable event for the role of blockchain technology in the future of health care.
And as the No. 6 on the Fortune 500, UnitedHealth’s move represents one of the biggest votes of confidence to date, in both the technology and the capacity for blockchain-based solutions.
Speaking ahead of the creation of the new role, the company was bullish about the prospects for blockchain-based technology in the health-care sector.
"Here, innovation isn't about another gadget, it's about making health-care data available wherever and whenever people need it, safely and reliably. There's no room for error. We are about to disrupt health care by applying blockchain technologies."
While this is no doubt a significant leap forward for the blockchain in insurance markets, it is far from a one-off event. Recent months have seen several other projects announced, including two separate insurance consortiums, focusing on similar developments on the blockchain.
Earlier in April, a group of 10 Chinese insurance companies announced a new collaboration on a blockchain development, following on from the launch of a similar project among European insurers announced toward the end of 2016.
While details of the UnitedHealth blockchain remain unspecified, the act of soliciting a new head of blockchain development has been seen as one of the strongest indicators yet that the company could be eyeing blockchain-based technologies for their business.
Health care is only one promising area of development for blockchain technology. Aside from its core applications in financial services, applications have also been identified in shipping, logistics, land registry, gold trading, gun licensing and a number of other sectors.