Parks Associates Blog

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Continua Health Alliance Added Dossia and Google as New Members, Announced Public Demo

Continua Health Alliance, a consortium for advancing technology adoption in the healthcare industry, announced this past Tuesday that Dossia and Google are joining the organization. For those who are not familiar with Dossia, it is a consortium made of many large self-insured employers and devoted to create personal health records (PHR) for their employees. Its members include AT&T, Wal-Mart, Cardinal Health, Intel, BP, Applied Materials, etc. Google, as we all know, introduced its Google Health platform in May 2008, and its new-found connection with Continua aims to offer consumers the ability to upload health data from home monitoring devices to Google-powered online health data banks.

This is a positive development for the personal health care industry. Personal health data collected by home health monitoring devices do not provide much value to patients and doctors if they remain locked in the devices. With access to personal health records and an expanding list of tools to interact with the data, consumers, with the help of their doctors, can unlock the value of this information and make smart decisions on their health. Google Health and Dossia’s personal health record database and application tools can serve this purpose well. Both have made progress in the past several months. Wal-Mart has started to expand use of Dossia’s PHR from a trial group to all its employees. Other Dossia members are said to take similar steps soon. Google Health, on the other hand, has forged partnerships with major drug stores, pharmacy benefit management firms, healthcare provider groups, and lab testing companies since its debut. Working with Continua is another step to add value to their respective platforms. In this embryonic healthcare industry segment, this type of collaboration, instead of competition, is much needed.

The news also caused me to think of another active participant in the personal health record business: Microsoft’s HealthVault division. HealthVault in recent month has gained great momentum regarding expanding its influence and attracting endorsement. The latest move with Aetna, one of the nation’s largest health insurers, was also good indication of the traction it scored with the health payer groups. In public presentations, HealthVault stated the same vision of connecting home health monitoring devices with its platforms, but it hasn’t joined Continua yet. Rather, it is working with individual companies on specific applications, at least for now. Is Google and Dossia’s partnership with Continua a turn-on or turn-off for HealthVault? We will see whether Microsoft will mandate its applications’ compatibility with Continua’s technology standards.

Speaking of standards, Continua also announced that its members will demonstrate interoperability among pre-certified products and services based on Continua’s standards on Oct 27, 2008 at the Partners Healthcare’s Annual Symposium event. I will host a panel discussion at that event on the emerging Medical Home model. BTW, when will we see collaboration between the Continua and the Patient Centered Primary Care Collaborative (PCPCC)?

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