With Google Health about to shutter, nonprofit Dossia is taking a contrary position by launching the latest version of Dossia Health Manager, a consumer PHR (personal health record) platform offered by employers.
Launched in 2006, Dossia is a nonprofit consortium of employers looking to aggregate health data to allow workers to make better choices and meet health goals.
Health Manager, announced on July 20, allows consumers to create tools and use games to challenge themselves to maintain healthy behaviors. This personalization is new in PHR applications, Dossia claims.
Health Manager is the update to Dossia's Health Management System and draws data from users' health record and medical claims data.
Both employers and customers can adapt the application for their needs. One such employer, chipmaker Intel, is a founding member of Dossia and offers the platform to its employees worldwide.
"I think it's going to become a growing necessity for an employer-driven model," Tami Graham, Intel's director of global benefits and a director for Dossia, told eWEEK.
"Employers are increasingly proactive about engaging their employees as partners in their effort to achieve higher value from their health benefits investment," Dossia CEO Mike Critelli said in a statement.
Although employers offer the PHR platform, only health plans can access the data.
Intel offered Dossia's platform to 16,000 employees last April. At that time, 25 percent of workers agreed to sign up in the first 90 days, Graham said.
Other founders of Dossia include AT&T, Cardinal Health, Pitney Bowes, Sanofi-Aventis, Vanguard Health Systems and Walmart.
Health Manager allows users to keep up with everyday diet or fitness goals as well as manage chronic conditions. If a user suffers from diabetes, the application can suggest suitable recipes, and if the patient is a member of a running group, it allows participants to keep track of the group's goals.
Game and social dynamics as well as incentives for reaching health goals are at the heart of the new Dossia platform.
"The Dossia Health Management System enables transformation in benefit plan design to drive healthier behaviors and more-effective use of the health care system," Critelli said. "Empowering individuals is incredibly important, but this is also a tool for nudging them toward the right behaviors."
Health Manager awards points to users for achieving health goals, and employers will be able to reward these points and levels with incentives, Graham said.
Gamification makes tough physical challenges more fun, she said.
Health Manager sends calendar reminder messages to participants when they have an upcoming appointment. It also enables users to store immunization records and send them as PDF attachments to doctors upon request.
In addition, patients can share health records with doctors in advance of appointments. Doctors can then update the records.
Other features include health-risk assessment tests and searchable data on health care facilities for procedures such as MRIs. Patients can also check drug interactions among their current medications and request replacement prescriptions from doctors if a conflict occurs.
Users can order the prescriptions directly through Health Manager. Telehealth consultations are also part of the Dossia application.
"By coupling real health data, valuable tools and content on an intelligent platform that presents information to users according to their needs over time, Dossia is positioned to enable positive behavior change and promote higher-value health care," Craig Barrett, Dossia board chairman and retired CEO and board chairman of Intel, said in a statement.
Health Manager, which will be available in the third quarter of 2011, is an untethered plan, meaning the data isn't tied to a particular health plan. In a tethered plan, patients lose their data when they discontinue coverage with an insurer.
Graham would like to see more employers adopt PHR platforms such as Dossia.
"They need to be part of the solution and drive the industry to have more open standards and make this data more and more readily available," Graham said. "The platform is there; the application is there. It's an ability to bring the data to life, and we need to get more and more data sources."