According to the World Health Organization (WHO), the mobility of health workforce is rapidly increasing over the past few decades. Based on a report published by American immigration council last year, there are over 247,000 doctors with foreign medical degrees practicing in US. This is roughly a quarter of the total number of doctors in the country.
Likewise, in UK, one out of every eight doctors presently employed under the National Health Service (NHS) are non UK national. Both countries had stressed the importance of foreign medical professionals, especially their contributions towards the disadvantage or less accessible communities. Although WHO has implemented a code to manage healthcare providers’ migration, problems often emerged from the laborious credential verification processes.
Since training received after the first awarded degree tend to occur at different institutions, sometimes, it can be a painstaking process for potential employers or human resource personnel to verify and keep track of them all. Checks are completely essential to garner the safety of patients but it also slows down employing process.
Calling blockchain for credential checks
Verification occurs within the institution which is offering the employment. The whole checking process will repeat again when the professional leaves for another role in another place. The emergence of enterprise level blockchain technology has begun to venture into it. What blockchain does is, once authentication process has been completed, information will be stored in an encrypted format and becomes unchangeable.
Every bits of the information speaking about the healthcare professional’s experiences contains a digital certification code linked to the source. Shall the need arise, hiring institutions may request the information from the individuals and be provided with a one-time encrypted key to access to the information from the wallet.
On the other hand, smart contracts can also be implemented to ensure licence or affiliations of healthcare professionals are constantly updated and adhere to national standards. Both professionals and institutions will also be informed if inconsistency arrives. Companies like TrueProfile.io is commercializing the service and extending it beyond the medical sector.
The modification of trust
Blockchain technology may reduce the hassle and cost incurred from manually verifying the credential of medical professionals. A process which lasts between four to six months with a cost from US$500 to US$7500, based a figure cited by a 2016 inpatient/outpatient revenue survey.
However, healthcare institutions should not regard blockchain technology as “the solution”.
Traditionally, healthcare heavily relies on safety, integrity and trust. Most people regard verification as a form of trust but security expert suggested trust as the made up of morals, reputation, institutions and systems.
Blockchain technology is here to replace parts of the trust components with technology. If it is violated, we will likely to be cornered. As witnessed in the locked up of $180 million in cryptocurrency after the death of the co-founder of Quadriga. That means if an error occurs, if the system has been hacked or if the medical professional ever lost the access, validation may put on hold and information in the wallet may be at risk.
So technology itself cannot stand alone. It does not mean that we should not adopt it, but it should be adopted holistically. Ultimately, there is no actual care if human is not involved.
A science writer with data background and an interest in current affair, culture and arts; a no-med from an (almost) all-med family. Follow on Twitter.