Can social make it for Dossia?

Dossia, owned by some of the largest employers in the United States, announced the launch of its newest personal health platform earlier this month. Managing health is an everyday task, and it’s an even bigger responsibility for those who are primary caregivers in the family or for those who have chronic conditions. The Dossia Health Manager combines many of the latest tech tools that allow people to take an active role in their health. We’ve seen many of these tools already, like the ability to enter data, set personal goals and track progress in the (soon to be discontinued) Google Health. In order to be successful, the Dossia system must have something that Google Health appeared to lack — the ability to sustain user involvement.

Users interact with the Dossia Health Manager to track personal and family members’ health information over time, voluntarily share information with health care providers and to receive tips on how to make health-conscious decisions. But since the system works best when continually updated, users must want to log-in often. Dossia’s trying to make itself engaging by being social, just like many success stories on the Internet. The program’s homepage is a news ticker of user activity. User profiles can be linked between family members, and personal activity is displayed along with activity from those linked profiles. So the system publishes news updates on a group of people, resulting in an interface similar to Facebook’s. Much of the content is system-generated. For example, a recipe that suits one family member’s specific diet might pop up on the family news feed.

Friends can also form groups to support one another with health goals. For instance, daily walkers can upload information about the number of steps they’ve logged, and groups have a message board where members can post their accomplishments and cheer each other on. Users can navigate to other main pages including a health applications page, a health marketplace and a calendar.

The Dossia Health Manager already acts in Health 2.0 terms as a data  utility layer. It  aggregates claims data, PBM data and data from medical devices, with user-provided information, and it includes intelligent tools that aid people in making their own health decisions.  For example, an application called medication manager allows someone to check if a new prescription could react with any existing medications they’re already taking. There are scores of partner applications in the Dossia marketplace.

The system also encourages people toward better health behavior using incentives. For instance, those with hypertension can opt into the Dossia Health Manager’s three-step program. First, record and track blood pressure (patients who do this have a 50 percent better chance of lowering their blood pressure). Second, indicate that they’re taking medication regularly. And finally, be rewarded with free medication or low co-pays for routine doctor visits for following their online plan. CEO of Dossia (and former CEO of Pitney-Bowes) Mike Crittelli told us that the focus has shifted away from solely trying to lower costs. “We’re going to make the wellness programs employers are already paying for work better,” he said.

So Dossia is trying to be Healthvault meets Facebook meets Keas/Limeade. Of the ten Dossia founders, which includes employers like AT&T, BP, Intel and Walmart, six already use the current Dossia Health Manager with around 100,000 employees using the old system. The new system will be made available to existing customers in the third quarter of this year.

It’ll then be make or break time for Dossia to see if the new system, which looks a lot like a “best of” the Health 2.0 world, can deliver the metrics its employers are looking for. Otherwise it might share something else with Google Health–owners who aren’t really interested in its potential.

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