Are big businesses demanding tech-savvy physicians?

April 1, 2007

That may be the implication of a recently launched initiative by five big employers to provide electronic portable personal health records to employees. Wal-Mart Stores, Intel, BP America, Pitney Bowes, and Applied Materials have formed a coalition to invest $5 million to implement these personal health records in 2007 through a Web-based framework called Dossia, according to American Medical News (12/18/2006). The goal, according to a representative of the coalition, is to empower health-care consumers.

That may be the implication of a recently launched initiative by five big employers to provide electronic portable personal health records to employees. Wal-Mart Stores, Intel, BP America, Pitney Bowes, and Applied Materials have formed a coalition to invest $5 million to implement these personal health records in 2007 through a Web-based framework called Dossia, according to American Medical News (12/18/2006). The goal, according to a representative of the coalition, is to empower health-care consumers.

Others, however, see the move as an indication that if doctors don't use information technology, they'll lose the business of employees of these companies. Although the coalition is not insisting that physicians adopt this technology, the initiative could ultimately squeeze out those doctors who cannot update and maintain an employee's personal health record.

As the initiative moves forward, many are watching its progress. To succeed, a number of issues must be addressed, including whether physicians will take the bait: After all, it's uncertain whether physicians' practices will suffer if doctors choose not to participate in the initiative. Also, patients who have good relationships with their doctors may not want to leave them just because they haven't adopted information technology into their practices.