Federation Of State Medical Boards Pilots Digital Records On Blockchain

The Federation of State Medical Boards has issued “sample verifications” of graduate and undergraduate medical credentials via blockchain technology. The national nonprofit, which co-sponsors the United States Medical Licensing Examination alongside the National Board of Medical Examiners and represents the seventy state medical and osteopathic boards within the U.S. and its territories, is conducting the blockchain pilot program on an ongoing basis. 

The pilot utilizes an open source blockchain solution called Blockcerts. Originally developed in 2016 by a partnership between Manhattan-based Learning Machine Technologies and the MIT Media Labs, the blockchain-empowered document software could potentially have far-reaching ramifications that transform credential recordkeeping.

Natalie Smolenski, a cultural anthropologist and vice president of business development at Learning Machine, told ETHNews: “Not only is Blockcerts the only open standard for issuing records to the blockchain in the world today, it also privileges recipient ownership of records and independent verification. This means that even if issuers or vendors cease to operate, recipients continue to own their digital records and can verify them indefinitely, anywhere in the world.”

Smolenski described how open standards allow Blockcerts to be deployed ubiquitously among various members of the marketplace, according to their specific needs. Since Blockcerts is an open technology standard, it functions as an infrastructure that any vendor, researcher, or institution can use to build their own applications for issuing, holding, and verifying official records using a blockchain. The open source project is available via the Blockcerts website

Smolenski detailed how the Blockcerts platform provides a twofold benefit to patients and physicians. First, Blockcerts provides the means to verify experience and skills. The recipient of medical degrees will have a lifelong record they can share and verify an unlimited number of times, anywhere, instantly and for free. The time required to re-issue transcripts or verify medical credentials could be dramatically reduced: “Physicians have a private portfolio of records certifying their skill and experience, which they can share with hospitals and patients for instant verification, thus increasing their prospects for employment and stimulating the growth of their practice.”

Secondly, the project promises to give “patients a totally new level of control over their official records. Patients have a private folder of medical records which they can share directly with healthcare providers and insurance companies, skipping the laborious and time-intensive process of transferring medical records between practitioners and insurance verification. With Blockcerts, fraud prevention and individual ownership of records are brought together.” 

The technology being used has already made significant strides in case studies involving academia and government. In its initial pairing with MIT, the prestigious technical institute’s registrar Mary Callahan moved to reinforce the initiative to issue diplomas on the blockchain. Learning Machine has also partnered with the Maltese government’s Ministry for Education and Employment to put the credentials of students and employees on a blockchain.  

In Smolenski’s book “Academic Credentials In An Era Of Digital Decentralization,” she states, “the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) is a thematic and precise way to catalogue and document disabilities. What if we could do the same for capabilities?” Soon, proving your aptitude via a blockchain could be as easy as proving your identity.