Jan 12 2015

Banking on Healthcare: The Credit Union Business Opportunity


As credit unions struggle to increase interest and noninterest income, they look wistfully at industries like healthcare, where revenue growth continues apace. America spends about 17% of GDP on healthcare, a percentage that has grown from about 14% in 2000 and 7% in 1970. The industry-wide move to electronic health records (EHRs) means that credit unions can benefit from the continued growth in healthcare while offering members a valuable service.

This Phase I research study was designed to evaluate the potential for credit unions to add health record banking as a new line of business. Health record banks (HRBs), which are secure repositories of medical records with access controlled by patients, can ensure the availability of comprehensive electronic patient records when and where needed, a prerequisite for improving the quality and reducing the cost of healthcare. 

Credit unions are already positioned as trusted organizations in their communities, essential characteristics for the success of HRBs. The report found that HRBs are a feasible and desirable business opportunity for credit unions that can be efficiently implemented through a credit union service organization (CUSO). The business approach could be validated in collaboration with an initial group of community credit unions working closely with a CUSO to establish a successful HRB. A more detailed plan including costs, risks, and next steps will be developed in Phase II to enable credit unions to establish a leadership role in the emerging $7–$9 billion HRB business, substantially expanding their membership in the process. 

Report Number 341