Dossia wants PHR deal kept under wraps

Something is amiss in Portland, Ore., with a project to provide personal health records to millions of workers at some of the nation’s largest employers. Exactly what the problem is, the employer coalition, called Dossia, doesn’t want the world to know. Dossia asked an Oregon judge to seal court records in a case between it and Omnimedix Institute, the not-for-profit organization designated to develop the personal health-record system for the consortium.

The formation of Dossia was announced with considerable fanfare in December 2006 by its founders. They are Wal-Mart, the nation’s largest private employer with more than 1.3 million workers; Applied Materials; BP America; Intel Corp. and Pitney Bowes. Between them, they claimed more than 2.5 million employees, dependents and retirees. A sixth corporation, giant pharmaceutical wholesaler, Cardinal Health, joined the Dossia coalition in February.

Piecing the story together from previously published reports, conversations with court and clerk’s office employees in Multnomah County, Ore., and from the Web site of Omnimedix Institute, it would appear money is at least a reason for the demand for secrecy, if not the root of the dispute.

According to a court employee, on June 22, Circuit Court Judge Jean Maurer signed a temporary restraining order sought by Dossia against Omnimedix barring it from filing suit against Dossia except under court seal. Circuit Court Judge Edward Jones, who took over the case, extended the temporary restraining order on June 26 and set a three-hour hearing tommorow on Dossia’s request for a preliminary injunction against Omnimedix. Jones also sealed all records for the case from June 26 forward, the court employee said.

{Dossia, major employers, and insurers are all pushing Americans to use personal health records cpontrolled by them. First, they should “do no harm” and urge Congress to pass legislation to ensure that patients control all access to their highly sensitive health records—wherever they are kept. Otherwise the electronic health system will become a supergighway for data mining electronic health records. Instead of benefitting from technology, all Americans will suffer discrimination and denial of jobs, insurance, credit, and admission to schools when our diagnoses and medications are known the world. ~ Dr. Deborah Peel, Patient Privacy Rights}

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