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The Disrupter: Leah Houston, MD

Updated: Feb 6

Dr. Leah Houston is the founder of HPEC, and a board-certified Emergency Physician. While practicing emergency medicine across the US for nearly 10 years she recognized a common problem: uncompensated administrative burdens related to physician employment and credentialing are a leading cause of administrative waste and physician burnout. She also realized that distributed ledger technology could solve the obstructive regulatory problems in healthcare by creating a decentralized community of physicians. So, she began working on the project and named it HPEC – the Humanitarian Physicians Empowerment Community.

HPEC is building a platform that will give every physician a self-sovereign digital identity attached to their credentials in order to create a democratic digital physicians guild. HPEC will streamline the current antiquated and laborious process of credentialing, reduce administrative waste, improve access to care and give physicians sovereign ownership of their data and employment rights. The organization will also create an opportunity for physicians to communicate more efficiently about policy, and practice in order to improve patient care.

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In presenting a solution that has the potential to alleviate the administrative waste for health systems, government and practicing physicians Dr. Houston is a recognized and requested national speaker on the topic of decentralized identity as it relates to healthcare. Her work was featured as a part of the first HIMSS Blockchain and Healthcare Textbook, published in 2019. A lifelong advocate, innovator and investor she has also spent lobbying for public policy and healthcare reform. She understands the problems that plague the healthcare system from the inside and out and has dedicated her time to repairing the current global healthcare crisis. HPEC will restore physician autonomy to the practice of medicine, will begin in the United States and expand.

Connect with Dr. Houston:

Notable quotes from Dr. Houston’s interview:

(on motivation for Emergency Medicine) it was a combination of having an aptitude for science, and also really enjoying people and connecting with people and wanting to find a way to combine those two.
I guess in some ways I’ve become a disruptive physician. And I was also a disruptive high school student. I was a bit of a troublemaker. My high school guidance counselor told me I shouldn’t even go to college.
When a child hears that there are people that are directly connected to them or one or two degrees of separation from them who have achieved these things, they feel like those goals are much more attainable. That’s why I think mentorship is one of the most powerful things that will help propel youth to their dreams.
The fact of the matter is is when you are employed, there is a conflict of interest. There is no other way to describe it. You take a Hippocratic oath to put your patients first and it is absolutely impossible to uphold that oath and be employed all the time.
HIPAA is not a Privacy Act, it’s an anti Privacy Act, it’s a, we get to share your information with whoever the hell we want, “please sign here” act. There’s no true informed consent around it, they force you to sign it or else you won’t be able to get health care.
(on the benefit of self sovereign identity technology) When the doctor has the copy [of the record], and the patient has the copy, there’s no need for anybody else to see it. And I’d like to hear an argument for why other people need to see it.
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