Dossia CTO says Web-based system will go into use this year, after change in development partners
ORLANDO -- The Dossia electronic health records consortium was dealt a blow last summer, when a highly publicized development deal that it announced in late 2006 with a nonprofit research organization ended in a legal dispute.
But according to Dossia's chief technology officer, the group — which consists of Wal-mart Stores Inc., Intel Corp., AT&T Inc. and five other large companies — is back up off the mat and plans to make the Web-based health records system broadly available to employees of its founding members later this year.
CTO Dave Hammond said at Computerworld's annual Premier 100 IT Leaders Conference here yesterday that the consortium also has started trying to entice other employers to join the group. And in the spring, Dossia plans to publish an API for the system and accelerate its efforts to get health care providers to agree to input the medical records of patients.
Some providers already have signed on, Hammond said, but he declined to identify them because the deals have yet to be announced. He noted that initially, the consortium is targeting health care organizations in geographic areas where its founding members have large numbers of employees.
Hammond, who is vice president of enterprise IT at Dossia member Cardinal Health Inc., acknowledged that the health records system "is still in a formative stage." But he vowed that the technology will work, and claimed that it will improve the ability of patients to manage their own health care by giving them a central storage point for their records, which they then will be able to share with multiple doctors.
Patients also will be able to use the system to compare costs and medical-outcome histories at different hospitals, based on the medical records of other individuals who agree to let their data be searched anonymously, Hammond said. That should help to "materially" reduce overall health care costs, he added.
The system being built by Dossia "is sort of like a virtual shoebox that you can save all your medical records in and cart around with you," Hammond said. "We've left this [data] in the hands of medical professionals for so long. We need to give some of that control back to [patients.]"
Dossia originally planned to make the system available to the employees of its founding members by the middle of last year. But in July, the consortium's development agreement with the Portland, Ore.-based Omnimedix Institute fell apart, throwing the project into disarray.
In September, though, Dossia announced a new deal (download PDF) with Children's Hospital Boston, where a group of researchers had developed a so-called personally controlled health record technology called Indivo. Hammond said a team of 20 people culled from Dossia's member companies is now working at a facility in Cambridge, Mass., to adapt Indivo for use by the consortium.
Dossia is replacing the open-source database used by Children's with a commercial product that Hammond wouldn't identify. He said the group also is doing development work aimed at enabling the health record system to scale "so it can support millions of people." In addition, the Dossia team is implementing "a very granular security model" that will enable patients to specify who can and can't access their data, down to the level of specific medical tests or immunizations, Hammond said.