Insights & Analyses

Illinois will use blockchain to verify credentials of medical licenses

August 10, 2017

The state of Illinois will use blockchain to improve the efficiency and accuracy of the state’s medical credentialing process, potentially making it easier to verify medical licenses are valid across state lines.

The Illinois Blockchain Initiative’s new pilot program, in collaboration with Hashed Health, will leverage blockchain and distributed ledger technologies to streamline the sharing of medical credential data and smart contracts.

The state hopes the effort will help automate workflows related to multi-state and interstate licensure.

The blockchain framework will allow providers to be identified in a secure, verifiable and scalable way, state official said. It will allow credentialing bodies to view and attest to certifications, while providers can verify and maintain a single record.

In the end, blockchain will ensure that all interacting bodies can trust that the central record is not only valid, but also authenticated and unique.

Eric Fish, senior vice president of legal services at the Federation of State Medical Boards, told OWI on Thursday that the current licensure and credentialing process, which involves creating a portfolio of an array of documents, is arduous and time consuming.

He sees the new blockchain initiative from the state of Illinois as a promising test case, potentially simplifying a cumbersome system that affects physicians, regulatory boards and credentialing bodies.

“It is encouraging to see the state of Illinois exploring the potential benefits that can be derived from implementing distributed ledger technology within the state regulatory process,” Fish said to OWI. “If successful, this effort may prompt other state medical boards, as well as others within healthcare, to investigate potential benefits that can be derived from the use of distribute ledgers, and may ultimately result in a more efficient regulatory system without any sacrifice to patient safety.”

Through the pilot program, Illinois hopes it will be able to lead the way in America in simplifying the licensure and credentialing process. Jennifer O’Rourke, blockchain business liaison for the Illinois Blockchain Initiative, said eventually the state aims to share its findings with other state boards and entities that might be interested in collaborating on the project.

“Illinois is committed to moving beyond the much-discussed promise of distributed ledger technologies,” O’Rourke said. “With this pilot we plan to bring tangible solutions that solve real problems.”

Practical use cases for blockchain are also discussed in the latest research from OWI Labs entitled Don’t Believe the (Blockchain) Hype: The definitive primer on identity and blockchain. In the intelligence report, OWI details identity use cases across industries, and specific attributes of blockchain that hold promise for identity. The full report is now available to purchase.