Companies Make Leap Toward Electronic Medical Records

December 7, 2006 ( - Five US companies have unveiled a system that they hope will put the personal health records of millions of people in one location and attempt to cut inefficiencies in the health care system that contribute to high costs.

The five collaborators on the “medical Internet” say the system is meant to decrease the chances of medical mistakes, improve treatment of chronic illnesses and save money coordinating treatment for patients by putting records in one location, according to the Los Angeles Times. 

The Times reported that each of the companies, whose ranks include Applied Materials, BP America, Intel, Pitney Bowes and Wal-Mart, contributed $1.5 million to create the system, called Dossia.

The Way it Works

The companies will begin signing up employees for entry into the system next year and will initially only cover their own 2.5 million workers, family members and retirees. Participation in Dossia will be voluntary, and patients will be able to decide what information they want released to doctors.

Before going to a medical appointment, a patient would log on to Dossia and view information on current health issues, medications, allergies and test results and the patient would decide what information to include in a report for the doctor, according to the newspaper.

Some of the capabilities of Dossia include:

  • Individuals can enter information into their personal record;
  • Automatic collection of data from pharmacies, doctors’ offices, hospitals, insurers and other electronic sources in the health care system;
  • Scanning of medical documents into the system and receiving X-rays and other visual records

The system will not be held by employers or insurance companies, but instead by operated by non-profit Omnimedix Institute of Portland, Oregon.

Privacy Concerns

Putting the records into the hands of individuals would mean making the records the property of the individual and allow them to transfer the records when they change employers and move into retirement.

However, some privacy advocates say that federal laws need to be reconfigured before making way for electronic records, which they claim will be a potentially rich target for data thieves.

More information on the system is available at .