Want more on this topic? See a slideshow here.
Reducing healthcare costs and inefficiencies by providing electronic health records to individuals has long been one of those goals that keep receding into the future.
Now Dossia, a non-profit consortium of large companies committed to providing electronic records to employees, has begun working with its founders to provide their employees with access to their medical records via the Web. Retailer Wal-mart Stores Inc. is already offering the service to employees, and other companies are likely to follow.
Proponents say electronic records can help eliminate duplicate medical tests and incorrect or lost information, while reducing administrative costs and helping to prevent numerous serious illnesses or deaths that result from prescription or other medical errors each year.
The Dossia consortium, based in Cambridge, Mass., gathers health data from multiple sources, such as doctors and clinics, at the request of employees and other eligible individuals who are part of the program. Employee participation in Dossia is voluntary, and users have complete control over who sees their information.
Once information is gathered and securely stored in a database, it's continually updated and available to users for life, even if they change employers, insurers, or doctors.
In addition to Wal-mart, Dossia founders include AT&T, Applied Materials, BP America, Cardinal Health, Intel, sanofi-aventis and Pitney Bowes. The Dossia project has been endorsed by such organizations as the American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Academy of Family Physicians, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the National Association of Manufacturers.
The organization operates a highly secure data center in Massachusetts, storing healthcare records on Hewlett-Packard blade servers running the Linux operating systems and operating in a virtualized environment, says Steve Munini, chief operating officer of Dossia.
Virtualization gives Dossia the level of flexibility it needs to move workloads around to different servers depending on load and configurations, Munini says.