Blockchain Use Case: Digital Identity Management

Identity is fundamental to almost any blockchain use case in healthcare - inclusive of identity management of individuals (e.g., patient, participant, provider), unique device identifiers (UDIs) for medical devices in the health supply chain, or organizational participants or validators in a network. A decentralized, distributed model can add integrity, transparency, and combat differential versioning of individual’s identity, organization’s identity, and/or medical device identity to allow for secure verification.

Current efforts in US-based healthcare systems notably lack normalized identifiers for patients, participants, and provider artifacts. Efforts are underway in organizations including the Decentralized Identity Foundation (DIF), World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) and company efforts like the IBM Blockchain Trusted Identity with Hyperledger and Gemalto with R3’s Corda.

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Health Provider Data and Directories

Healthcare providers – from individual practitioners to large health systems – must have accurate demographic information so that patients may locate them when needed and accrediting agencies may identify and locate them for credentialing. In perhaps the first industry collaboration of this scope, the Synaptic Healthcare Alliance (i.e., Humana, Multiplan, Optum, Quest Diagnostics, etc.) is attempting to improve the current system of provider data and directory management using a “provider data exchange” (PDX) [1]. The Alliance aims to improve accuracy and efficiency of this data by architecting a non-siloed system, resulting in a reduced error rate and improved reimbursement rate.

Health Provider Credentialing

The physician credentialing process can take months to complete due to antiquated processes and inefficiencies. The opportunity cost for hospitals can be substantial based on the failure to capture physician-generated revenue during the relevant portion of the year (i.e., half a million to 2.5 million dollars in an annual cycle) [2]. Early movers for this use case include Intiva Health and Professional Credentials Exchange that are leveraging the distributed technology to reduce inefficiencies and duplication in the credentialing process.