Frequently Asked Questions

Dossia is a pioneering, innovative initiative with the potential to dramatically change the health care system and minimize errors and waste. Here's some information to get you started understanding what it's all about and how it works.

What, exactly, is Dossia from a user perspective?

Dossia is an independent and secure Web-based system that enables participating employees, their dependents and retirees to maintain lifelong electronic health records. The Dossia system will empower individuals to gather their own medical data from multiple sources and to create and utilize their own personal, private and portable electronic health record. In the beginning, data is likely to come from insurers' databases and the patient's own annotations. As the system develops, additional information will come directly from the patient's medical chart.

At first these records will be offered only to employees and dependents of the founder companies.

Because Dossia is independently owned and operated, employers and insurance companies will have no access to any information in any employee's health record.

In the future, as users change jobs or insurance companies or retire, they will retain access to Dossia.

What, exactly, is Dossia from a technology perspective?

Dossia is a hyper-secure, Web-based infrastructure designed to encourage vendor innovation for the benefit of every patient and health care provider, and to improve the quality of care across the entire health care system.

After the initial development period, the Dossia technology platform will be made available to software developers so that they can create applications that encourage the adoption of electronic personal health records far beyond the original employee groups.

Dossia's technology will be built to public standards using Application Programming Interfaces (API) that are open and freely available to all developers.

Who's behind the Dossia network?

The Dossia Founders Group includes AT&T, Applied Materials, BP America, Inc., Intel Corporation, Pitney Bowes, sanofi-aventis and Wal-Mart. They have joined together to fund Dossia as a new kind of health care benefit to their employees, dependents and retirees. Any other companies who are interested in empowering their employees, and who desire to help to reduce inefficiency and errors in the health care system, are welcome to participate.

Dossia is being developed and deployed by the Dossia Founders Group Board of Directors in collaboration with Children's Hospital Boston and  several other qualified and experienced vendors.

For more than a decade, the researchers in the Children's Hospital Informatics Program (CHIP) have been leaders in promoting personal control of health information as a key to improving consumer health management and outcomes.

Nothing in life is free. Who's paying for the Dossia Network, and why?

Each Dossia founding employer is contributing a significant amount of money to develop the Dossia infrastructure. In addition, they will be deploying the system to their workforces to support their health and wellness activities. Founders believe Dossia will empower employees to manage their own care more efficiently, improve communications between patients and doctors, and provide more complete and accurate data to health care providers than the current fragmented, paper-based system.

Dossia is a vital step in eliminating waste, inefficiencies and errors from the health care system. When the system is complete, founders expect that other companies will use it. Dossia's open infrastructure enables technology and health care companies to build products and services that interoperate with and extend the capabilities of the Dossia record. Long term, the goal is to run Dossia as a not-for-profit public utility that improves efficiency and the quality of care throughout the entire system. In the process, of course, the Founders hope to curb the ever-increasing amounts that they and their employees spend on health care.

Aren't there a lot of personal health records out there already?

Yes, many different groups and companies offer personal health records. However, the capacity of these products to import data from multiple sources is limited, forcing many to rely on data you type in yourself, or on data supplied by a limited number of sources.

Dossia provides what is missing in the personal health industry today - a secure data infrastructure that aggregates and stores health information for individuals to create a lifelong personal health record with medical information from multiple sources.  Most importantly, Dossia's health record is personally-controlled, private and portable.

Dossia is being designed as a technology that encourages innovation. That means that developers may offer products that provide performance upgrades and new features.

Dossia is being designed to avoid the incompatibilities that currently make it almost impossible to share information that's critical to avoiding potentially life-threatening misunderstandings and mistakes as a patient moves from one caregiver to another, especially in emergency situations.

In fact, Dossia has already won a broad base of support from such organizations as the American Association of Family Physicians, the American Academy of Pediatrics and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Ultimately, the goal is to facilitate a new level of health information exchange, while leaving patients in full control of what information is available, and who has access to it.

There are things in my health record I don't want my employer to know about.  How does Dossia ensure my privacy?

Dossia will be operated by qualified and experienced vendors, who are part of an independent not-for-profit organization. This creates an organizational firewall between the data and all outside parties - including your employer and insurance company.

Patient control and privacy are paramount to both Dossia and Children's Hospital Boston. Dossia will provide strong multi-level data security. Each record will be encrypted, protecting against unauthorized access to servers, back-up tapes and compelled disclosures.

Dossia will include extremely robust security policies and procedures, including a strong authentication system and a federated database. Only you can establish your Dossia personally-controlled health record, and only you can decide what information to share and with whom.

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