The hospital operator plans to offer Dossia Web-based personal health records to all 23,000 of its employees by year end.

Marianne Kolbasuk McGee, Senior Writer, InformationWeek

January 13, 2010

3 Min Read

Vanguard Health Systems, a founding member of the Dossia consortium, has begun rolling out Dossia electronic personal health records to its employees in a big way -- and plans to add some bells and whistles of its own soon.

Vanguard, which operates 15 acute care hospitals in four regions of the U.S., has rolled the Dossia PHRs to a test group of about 250 employees, and expects to offer the web-based digitized health records to all 23,000 employees and their dependents by year end, said Brad Perkins, Vanguard executive VP of strategy and chief transformation officer.

In the future, the healthcare provider also plans to offer Dossia e-personal health records to its patients, Perkins said.

The hospital operator is working on having patient data from its various clinical systems automatically populate the Dossia PHRs. For now, Vanguard employees using Dossia PHRs are having their records automatically populated with data from health claims, as well as from prescription data from Wal-Mart and Sam's Club pharmacies.

In late 2008, Wal-Mart became the first Dossia member to begin offering the PHRs to tens of thousands of its employees, and so data connections from Wal-Mart and Sam's Club pharmacy systems to Dossia have already been made. That also allows other Dossia members such as Vanguard to also have their employees' PHRs updated with Wal-Mart pharmacy data, said Dossia CEO Colin Evans.

Soon, Vanguard also plans to offer some perks to its Dossia users, said Perkins.

In addition to the Dossia PHRs, Vanguard will offer its Dossia users "concierge" or "coach" services. Those services would involve Dossia PHR users providing consent to Vanguard concierge staff who would assist the individual in navigating healthcare issues, including spending and finances, and treatment and care decisions.

For instance, the concierge could help Dossia users find out-of-network specialists, understand their co-pays and deductibles, or explain instructions that were provided to them by their clinicians.

Vanguard found a need for these kinds of services when it was working with its group of early Dossia users -- who are employees of the healthcare provider. They often needed help not with using the PHR itself, but rather navigating through the healthcare delivery system, Perkins said.

So far, Vanguard employees have had an "enthusiastic response" to the offer of these Dossia-PHR-enabled concierge services, which ultimately aim to help provide better quality of care to patients, Perkins said.

The Vanguard concierge infrastructure that's being built now will provide Vanguard employees and patients with "high touch, trusted solutions" supported by the Dossia PHR, Perkins said.

The Vanguard concierge infrastructure will include teams who'll work with Vanguard patients and employees in the four large regions where Vanguard has healthcare facilities and hospitals -- San Antonio, Phoenix, Chicago, and Boston.

With patients' consent, those concierge staffs could, for example, access individuals' Dossia PHR to help explain to patients a hospital's discharge summary and follow-up care instructions.

The concierge services being developed by Vanguard for its Dossia PHR users are the sorts of perks some other Dossia member companies are interested in offering to their employees, said Evans.

"Healthcare is confusing," said Evans. "The concierge service puts a high value on establishing an initial dialogue with patients" to understand their health needs and concerns, he said. "Vanguard is leading the way."

While Vanguard rolls out Dossia PHRs to its employees and hones its related concierge services, other Dossia consortium members are also getting ready to roll out the PHRs to its employees in a large scale this year, said Evans.

That includes about three companies, including AT&T, planning to roll out Dossia PHRs en-mass during the first quarter, he said.

Nonprofit organization Dossia was launched in December 2006 by Wal-Mart, Intel, and several other large employers for the creation of a secure, Web-based infrastructure to provide patient-controlled, electronic PHRs to millions of workers, retirees, and their dependents.

In addition to those other companies, the Dossia consortium's other member employers include Applied Materials, BP America, Cardinal Health, Pitney Bowes, Abraxis BioScience, and sanofi-aventis.

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About the Author(s)

Marianne Kolbasuk McGee

Senior Writer, InformationWeek

Marianne Kolbasuk McGee is a former editor for InformationWeek.

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