Dossia Partners With Health Language To Offer Electronic Medical Records in Plain English

The non-profit consortium Dossia has branded itself as a provider of digital health records focused on ease of use for the consumer. The organization got started in 2006 to offer the Web-based records to employees at its member companies—like BP America, Intel, Pitney Bowes, and Wal-Mart—and has racked up plenty of data on patients’ doctors visits, pharmacy orders, and insurance claims.

Now Dossia wants to make all that data more accessible. Earlier this month, the Cambridge, MA-based consortium announced a push to make the data it stores more accessible for patients and their families, by integrating its product with Denver, CO-based Health Language, a provider of technology for integrating medical terminology and coding with healthcare software. The company did not disclose financial details of the partnership.

“Ultimately, the partnership is very significant because it signifies that we are a consumer controlled solution, said Dossia CEO Michael Critelli in a phone conversation. “It gives patients access even when they’re not in a doctor’s office.”

The integration with Health Language’s translation engine will help Dossia, which has largely focused on electronically storing and processing insurance claims and pharmacy data for patients, focus more on connecting patients with information from doctor’s visits and lab test results, by converting it to a “more user friendly state.”

“Over time we will see some capabilities to translate lab data and other primary data that is today not as prominent in the record as it will be,” Critelli says.

Existing forms for insurance claims data contain a number of differentiating codes for medical services—like administering medicine through an IV versus a pill—that help insurers determine how to pay, but aren’t necessarily important to the patient. Dossia will focus on sifting through these codes and administrative details to bring patients (and their families) access to information that will help them manage their care. “What they really want to know is how much medication is administered to me, what are its side effects, and what is it supposed to do,” says Critelli.

“We’re going to take medical terminology and convert it to plain language. We’ll take coding and medical jargon created for one purpose, and translate it for another: healthcare management.”

The technology will be fully integrated with Dossia’s health records in four months or so, in time for fall enrollments. Dossia is working on getting more of its member companies fully set up with the personal health records for their employees (it currently has six out of the 10 enrolled). Earlier this year, former Xconomy correspondent Ryan McBride wrote that Dossia had a for-profit arm that was looking for outside financing to expand. That process is continuing, and the consortium says improvements such as the Health Language integration are helping it pitch to investors.

“We have gotten some very good feedback from prospective investors that we are going to be a long-term player,” Critelli says. “We’re in the process of updating our offering and sharing it with investors as we go.”

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