Recently, the National Association of Medical Staff Services (NAMSS) held a roundtable meeting entitled ‘The Future of Digital Credentialing’, which focused on the wide range of new and emerging technologies, including blockchain technology, which could potentially be used to streamline the credentialing process and build in more efficiencies. As promising as blockchain technology appears to be, credentialing professionals expressed caution in getting lured into the hype of what could be, without giving serious consideration to its limitations.
The NAMSS roundtable meeting participants concluded there were six (6) major considerations for the credentialing industry to move toward digital credentialing technologies:
- Process Over Technology. While new digital credentialing technologies like blockchain and digital signature are impressive, effectively planning for their uses is essential. Development of comprehensive process and governance structures are more important than selecting a buzzworthy innovation.
- Standardization Has Proved Useful. Roundtable participants expressed general agreement in the advances that have already occurred in the credentialing industry, which have streamlined and standardized many credentialing functions. Participants concluded that it is possible to improve the credentialing process using existing structures and a similar focus should be applied to digital credentialing technologies.
- Records are Changing. Roundtable participants acknowledged various modalities in which records, including credentialing records, are managed and stored. Transferring records on an institution to institution basis is evolving and may eventually become obsolete.
- Monetization Need to be Addressed. Concerns exist about redefining the way in which credentials data is monetized. As it relates to digital credentialing, there needs to be clear parameters about who owns the data and who profits from its transmission. In absence of guardrails, data exchange could become an impetus to undercut market competitors, when the purpose of credentialing is ultimately, first and foremost, for patient safety.
- Data Delineation. Noting the credentialing process encompasses a wide range of data, not all data can or should be managed in the same way. Organization of data and development of varying standards for managing different data sets is essential.
- Security and Risk Management are Essential. Adopting any new digital technologies that would have the potential to negatively impact the protection of credentialing data sets will require detailed examination of the security benefits and disadvantages. Data access, editing permissions, error-correction and data protections are of paramount concern in a digital space. Roundtable participants were cautious of assuming excessive risk in the pursuit of cost-cutting and standardization and expressed the important of maintaining the highest levels of security with all digital credentialing technologies.1