records mashup would span a lifetime
modified Thu Dec 07 07:00:08 PST 2006
major companies have joined forces and invested in what appears
to be the ultimate personal medical-records database. Applied
Materials, BP America, Intel, Pitney Bowes and Wal-Mart Stores
have sunk an undisclosed amount of money into the Omnimedix
Institute, a nonprofit organization that developed and will
manage the database, called "Dossia."
which in 2007 will be made available to the companies' 2.5
million U.S. employees, dependents and retirees, will hold
medical records from multiple sources for a person over their
entire lifetime. The database could include test results and
medical evaluations from various doctors' offices, hospitals and
impetus behind the initiative is to curb health care costs by
cutting down on administrative costs; reduce medical errors and
costs associated with duplicate tests when it comes to health
care services; and offer convenience to people wanting access to
their own records, the companies said.
administrators and promoters anticipate the usual challenges
associated with the move to medical technology. One is a fear of
private medical information being exposed to employers,
advertisers and others. Another is a resistance from insurance
and health care managers who want to retain control over the
employee side, the biggest problem is people's complete
mistrust," said J.D. Kleinke, CEO and chairman of the Omnimedix
Institute. "People in (the U.S.) health care system have heard
stories of people who have been burned, denied jobs or coverage
for their health care data."
Kleinke said Dossia will win trust because it's in the hands of
an independent nonprofit organization and not an employer or
health care manager. Colin Evans, the director of policy and
standards for Intel's digital health group, shared that same
building it that way, based on principles agreed on and
established. Groups like Connecting For Health came up with an
architecture for a record locator system, which we're following
pretty much to the letter," said Evans.
also said that Intel would be willing to let leading health
organizations come in and inspect Dossia. "Any system to be
secure has to be inspectable. I would suspect that we would
allow the appropriate set of experts, the normal advocates, or
in some cases nonadvocates, to take a look and make sure that it
passes muster," he said.
one of the companies that initiated the project, spends more
than $500 million a year on health care costs for its U.S.
employees, Evans said. Estimates from Mercer Consulting show
that a mature Dossia-like system with all employees
participating could result in as much as a 7.1 percent savings
in direct health care costs and employee-related productivity
costs due to illness or time spent dealing with health care
there may be initial skepticism, Evans predicts that a new
enthusiasm and interest in health will carry over into managing
one's health records. "Intel has wellness programs to encourage
employees to take steps toward their own health," he said. "The
take up is accelerating among our employees. I think there is a
wave that is here to be surfed."
also said that high-tech convenience could eventually influence
the medical services market. "Right now, maybe I can't change
doctors because it's a huge fuss," he said.
"If I can
show up with data that has the most recent history in a format
that the doctor can drop straight in his file...that creates an
economic effect of competition and striving for service and
investment on the part of providers."
complicated as the architecture for this type of system is,
Kleinke said the bigger challenges are rooted in the
bureaucratic and political complexities of the health care
reality, a lot of health care organizations have every incentive
not to share," he said. "They want lock-in. They want switching
costs. They don't want employees to be able to switch plans."
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