In the modern digital world, we’re all accustomed to having our personal information online. From our ID numbers, credit cards, birth certificates, cellphone numbers, to, in the case of a doctor, the MD at the end of your name, whether you completed a residency or board certification, or have a license to practice medicine. When our credentials are in the hands of a third party, we can unknowingly set ourselves up for fraud, waste, and abuse.
On this episode of Prosperous Doc, we welcome Dr. Leah Houston, a Locum Tenens doctor who faced the stressful ordeal of having her physician identity stolen and abused. After pursuing litigation to resolve the matter, Dr. Leah Houston asked herself, “How many people is this happening to every day who haven’t left the state? How many people is this happening to who are just working in a hospital, not even knowing that their professional brand and their credentials are being used on patients that they don’t even know about?” (5:52)
As a result of this ordeal, Dr. Houston became curious about stolen identity and fraud and began to investigate, discovering Self Sovereign Identity. Self – as in, it’s yours, sovereign - owned and controlled by you, identity, “it defines who you are digitally.” (7:47) Understanding how powerful this resource could be, Dr. Houston founded HPEC (Humanitarian Physicians Empowerment Community), a software service where all the information regarding both doctor and patient is stored; this way, if a person goes to a clinic, they provide their doctor with their personal data without having to go through the tedious process of document transactions. This ensures all of your information is in your control.
“We’re creating a decentralized network of physician services, where all of the physicians’ specialists can come together, can own their identity, own their right to work, kick out the third parties who are not only lacking value, but essentially are surveilling and capitalizing off of our practice and suffering of our patients really is what’s going on. And we can restore autonomy and trust and privacy to the doctor, patient relationship again, that’s what this is about.” While the infrastructure of the medical industrial complex is resistant to change, Dr. Houston believes there is hope in this new technology to fix the system. (13:29)
Financial Wellness Tip
This episode’s Financial Wellness Tip focuses on the student loan arena. Ever since the CARES Act suspended payments in late March 2020 to address the COVID-19 pandemic, many question what their payments should be. Here are a few things you can do to help your case: (1) obtain a copy of your payment history; (2) be sure to recertify your income and submit your employment certification form at least annually, or whenever you switch employers; and (3) be sure to find a source for up to date information, whether that’s your loan servicer, a conventional news outlet, or a trusted advisor who specializes in student loans. (16:30)
For more information on Dr. Leah Houston’s organization HPEC, visit hpec.io or find her on social media @LeahHoustonMD on Facebook and Twitter.
Want to find out your student debt game plan? Take our Student Loan Quiz and figure out the best student loan repayment option for you.
Prosperous Doc podcast by Spaugh Dameron Tenny highlights real-life stories from doctors and dentist to encourage and inspire listeners through discussions of professional successes and failures in addition to personal stories and financial wellness advice. Spaugh Dameron Tenny is a comprehensive financial planning firm serving doctors and dentist in Charlotte, NC. To find out more about Spaugh Dameron Tenny, visit our website at www.sdtplanning.com. You can also connect with our host, Shane Tenny, CFP email@example.com or on Twitter.