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HIStalk Interviews Eric Ly, CEO, KarmaCheck

February 13, 2023 Interviews No Comments

Eric Ly,  PhD, MS is co-founder and CEO of KarmaCheck of San Francisco, CA. He was a co-founder and the founding CTO of LinkedIn.


Tell me about yourself and the company.

I am a technology entrepreneur. I have worked on B2B software for multiple decades. I was one of the co-founders of LinkedIn. What got me interested in background screenings and verifications was that I was interested in something like a blue checkmark that would verify the information contained on LinkedIn profiles. That led me to the background screening industry, where I saw an opportunity to bring efficiencies and transform the way that background screenings and verifications get done.

You’ve mentioned the possibility of allowing people to store verified credentials in a digital wallet. How do you see the company being involved in that?

That’s a vision that we are working towards. If we are able to provide a wallet of credentials to professionals in the future, those credentials that are verified can essentially be persistent. When they go for new opportunities, that information is mostly there already. That speeds up the process of applying and getting job opportunities, both for candidates themselves as well as for employers. They don’t have to go and check many of those facts again.

Certainly there is information that needs to be updated with recent changes, but that opens up a world where the onboarding process can be more efficient for both sides. As we are moving towards the world where there is a more flexible and contingent workforce, the need and the value that provides is going to be become even greater.

It would make sense that LinkedIn user identities would require verification, especially now that we are seeing LinkedIn scammers pretending to be both employees and employers. Do you think that will happen?

That’s an interesting scenario. LinkedIn has been successful in amassing the professional information and histories of professionals all across the world. There can be a layer on top of that that provides verification of the  information that has been entered by those individuals. We are creating value by bringing truth so that the information that is associated with those profiles — whether they are on LinkedIn or elsewhere, let’s say on a job site — can be trusted so that when employers are looking at candidates, they will know that the information about the backgrounds of those candidates is confirmed.

The Department of Justice recently announced that thousands of people purchased phony nursing educational credentials, and some number of those folks presumably ended up obtaining licenses and caring for patients. We’ve also seen examples of nurses who harmed patients intentionally in hospitals that declined to prosecute or publicize them, allowing them to take jobs with new hospitals and continue their crimes. What kind of analysis or AI review could detect these issues?

Those are some interesting cases. In healthcare, here’s an example of where verifying someone’s credentials and their background is especially important, because we are talking about life and death for patients that healthcare providers affect. It’s especially important that the backgrounds of clinicians are verified. Beyond verifying current credentials, which is a complicated and complex stack already, skill competency tests could be run to ensure that the individuals have the expertise and knowledge that they need to do their job.

Something we have seen recently becoming more of a problem is verifying the identity of a particular candidate. If it’s possible to hire someone in the place of a clinician without ever meeting them in person, there is also an increased chance of the identity of that individual being falsified as well. ID verification technologies that can be used not only to confirm someone’s background, but to confirm that that background actually belongs to the individual that is being placed on an assignment.

The US has low unemployment and a significant percentage of citizens who have been convicted of a felony, suggesting that employers are either unaware or unconcerned about their criminal history. How would hiring decisions change if finding criminal records at local, state, and federal levels became easy and inexpensive?

Numerous surveys have found that at any given time, 25% to 40% of people have falsified their backgrounds. That’s pretty consistent across the board, whether it’s on an online platform or from a resume. Knowing where the falsification happened becomes an important point.

In this historically low unemployment situation, there might be the temptation to bypass some of these checks in the name of bringing more people on board, placing them, and so forth. That puts the employer or the staffing company at risk, because if something goes wrong, that carries a pretty heavy liability. In a field like healthcare, we are talking about life and death situations, so it’s not a light topic.

Because of the complexities that are involved in doing credentialing and meet compliance, this is an area and opportunity where technology can help. If those processes, as complex as they are, can be made more efficient and perhaps more cost effective, the reason to skip, overlook, or miss some of the infractions or violations that happen don’t have to happen as much. Companies and employers can still protect themselves while going through these compliance processes just as much as they should in more normal times.

How much inefficiency in provider credentialing could be eliminated by technology?

We are entering into a new world in healthcare and the staffing of healthcare. The general trend is that the scale and the velocity at which placements are occurring is speeding up. Hospitals and staffing companies have had to manage their staff at a faster pace than they ever had to before. Based on this backdrop of complicated credentialing needs, it becomes an unmanageable situation. The challenge is even greater when you have costs going up.

Technology generally helps to deliver scale and to deliver efficiency, so there are certainly opportunities for technology to be applied in these kinds of situations to help increase efficiency. That translates into is operating efficiencies and lower costs for the facilities.

That scalability might provide the opportunity to assemble a deep candidate profile that includes social media posts, credit reports, driving, records, online photos or reviews, and any number of information items that aren’t directly related to being hired. Will we see a tension between what is possible versus what is fair or reasonable?

There has been a lot of recent talk about AI and the application of AI. It enables any user to sift through more and more information to catch information that might help enlighten the background of a clinician, for example. The ability to look at more information, to learn more about the candidate, ensures that a qualified candidate gets placed, such that problems and liabilities are reduced. There is ever more information out there, and technology is a tool to help look through that ever-increasing amount of information.

What healthcare opportunities will the company explore in the next few years?

For an industry like healthcare that has maybe traditionally been slower to adopt technology, there are some great opportunities to take a look at making operations more efficient and cost effective. The main reason for doing any of this is to deliver better patient care, which everybody wants. In doing that and evaluating technologies, my recommendation is to not necessarily take a look at point solutions, but instead to have a holistic sense of the technologies that will deliver value to an organization, how it fits into processes and workflows, and how existing workflows can be changed a little to create significant improvements in operational efficiency. To take a higher-level strategic look at how technology can be deployed within an organization would be helpful for the healthcare industry.

Innovation is definitely happening within technology to specifically serve the healthcare sector. From a standpoint of cost savings and delivering better patient care, some good answers are starting to emerge.

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