Monday, August 13, 2007

The Dossier on Dossia

My friend David S. has been politely but earnestly pushing news items to me in order to spur me to get back to blogging. For the record, it's not so much lack of fodder but lack of time that undermines my blogging frequency -- with an increasingly complex and fast-moving company, three complex and fast-moving children, and one fast-moving (but not complex) lab-mix puppy, it's been unbelievably difficult to find the time. Many many thanks, though, to David S. and the others who have inquired about the blog and expressed interest in its return. And of course, more fodder always helps....

The Dossia project has taken some interesting turns in the last couple of months. First was Marianne McGee's initial report in Information Week ("Major E-health Records Project Unravels Into Legal Battle"). More recently, Modern Healthcare reports that Dossia has asked a court to seal the records of its dispute with its vendor over the project ("Dossia wants PHR deal kept under wraps").

Though I have been fairly critical of the Dossia project since it's origins ("Hi, I'm from WalMart and I'm here to help" and "You can't get blood (or data) out of a stone"), I don't take a whole lot of pleasure in seeing a high-profile health IT failure, especially at a time when we in the field have very few successes to speak of. That said, it's probably good that it's falling apart now on relatively straightforward corporate contract issues (money, deliverables, etc), because it shows that they're probably not yet ready to tackle the hard stuff anyway -- like privacy, security, access, control, secondary uses, etc etc etc.

One fascinating aspect of the issue is the David and Goliath angle. Dossia (ie, WalMart, Pitney Bowes, British Petroleum, Intel, etc) is throwing legal weight around in court trying to prevent public access to court records about some pretty mundane contract issues -- relatively small amounts of money ($6 million or so), associated contract deliverables, and conflicting claims of breach of contract. And they're turning the screws on the Omnimedix Institute, a 15-person non-profit organization. Don't get me wrong -- Omnimedix may very well be in the wrong, and unsuited and unqualified to take this on besides, but they are, in the end, a 15-person non-profit organization.

If this display of bare knuckle tactics and secrecy about details is any indication, Dossia's leadership seems like it might be a little behind the times with regard to patient privacy, consumer empowerment, and transparency. Let's just hope that they get up to speed by the time that there's real patient data on the line.....