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Blockchain Technology

A Data Framework to Improve Validity, Trust, and Accountability of Information Exchange in Health Professions Education

Funk, Eric, MD; Riddell, Jeff, MD; Ankel, Felix, MD; Cabrera, Daniel, MD

doi: 10.1097/ACM.0000000000002326

Health professions educators face multiple challenges, among them the need to adapt educational methods to new technologies. In the last decades, multiple new digital platforms have appeared in the learning arena, including massive open online courses and social-media-based education. The major critique of these novel methods is the lack of the ability to ascertain the origin, validity, and accountability of the knowledge that is created, shared, and acquired. Recently, a novel technology based on secured data storage and transmission, called blockchain, has emerged as a way to generate networks where validity, trust, and accountability can be created. Conceptually, blockchain is an open, public, distributed, and secure digital registry where information transactions are secured and have a clear origin, explicit pathways, and concrete value. Health professions education based on blockchain will potentially allow improved tracking of content and the individuals who create it, quantify educational impact on multiple generations of learners, and build a relative value of educational interventions. Furthermore, institutions adopting blockchain technology would be able to provide certification and credentialing of health care professionals with no intermediaries. There is potential for blockchain to significantly change the future of health professions education and radically transform how patients, professionals, educators, and learners interact around safe, valid, and accountable information.

E. Funk is chief resident, Mayo Clinic School of Medicine, Rochester, Minnesota.

J. Riddell is assistant professor of clinical emergency medicine, Keck School of Medicine of the University of Southern California, Los Angeles, California.

F. Ankel is professor of emergency medicine, University of Minnesota Medical School, Minneapolis, Minnesota, and vice president for healthcare professions education, HealthPartners, Saint Paul, Minnesota.

D. Cabrera is associate professor of emergency medicine, Mayo Clinic School of Medicine, Rochester, Minnesota.

Funding/Support: None reported.

Other disclosures: None reported.

Ethical approval: Reported as not applicable.

Correspondence should be addressed to Daniel Cabrera, 200 First St. SW, Rochester, MN 55905; telephone: (507) 284-2511; e-mail:

© 2018 by the Association of American Medical Colleges