Legal Tiff Won’t Derail Dossia Project, Spokesman Says

A legal dispute between the sponsoring companies and the contractor hired to build the database will not derail the Dossia personal health records (PHR) project, a spokeswoman for Dossia insists.

“We remain committed to moving forward and providing our employees with lifelong personal health records,” Dossia spokeswoman and Intel employee Shannon Love said Monday, following reports last week that the ambitious project was in jeopardy.

The tiff apparently centers on a supposed promise that Dossia would include at least 10 participating companies by the end of the year, each of which would contribute $1.5 million to the project, allegedly making a contract with technology developer Omnimedix Institute (Portland, Ore.) worth a minimum of $15 million.

When it launched last December to much fanfare, Dossia included Applied Materials, BP America, Pitney Bowes, and Wal-Mart Stores, in addition to Intel. (See “Intel, Four Others to Insist on PHRs for Employees.”) Cardinal Health later joined the coalition.

Omnimedix was to build a secure, Web-based data warehouse to store the PHRs of at least 2.5 million U.S. employees of the participating companies. Deployment was to begin during the second half of this year, but recent legal filings threaten the timeline.

Neither side is revealing much, but Love did say that the Dossia companies still expect to have some PHRs available by the end of 2007.

In an e-mail, Omnimedix founder, chairman, and chief executive J.D. Kleinke said, “We cannot comment on the current legal action, only point to the facts on the public record, a few of which are included in the press release on our own Web site.”

Among these selections from the public record is a July 11 story in InformationWeek, in which Kleinke apparently gave an interview.

“A temporary restraining order was quietly filed in late June by Dossia against the Portland, Ore.-based Omnimedix in the circuit court of the state of Oregon for the county of Multnomah. According to court papers filed by Dossia, Ominmedix is temporarily restrained from filing any suit of its own except under seal,” InformationWeek reported.

“They went ahead to file a restraining order to prevent us from suing them,” Kleinke is quoted in the article as saying.

“In its court papers, Dossia says it will ‘suffer immediate and irreparable harm’ if Omnimedix files a public suit that reveals confidential details of the parties’ agreement. Dossia is seeking to settle its disputes with Omnimedix through arbitration,” according to the story.

In making the case that Dossia was to include at least 10 and as many as 13 “founding” corporate partners, Omnimedix also points to January testimony from a Wal-Mart executive before the National Committee on Vital and Health Statistics and to a Dossia/Intel presentation made to the National Governors Association in March.

“Omnimedix does not know why the Dossia spokeswoman quoted in the InformationWeek article ‘denied that Dossia ever set a goal of having 10 employer members,’” the not-for-profit organization is saying on its Web site.

Kleinke, however, refused an interview request from Digital HealthCare & Productivity. “Thanks for your interest in our side of the story, but we are unable to tell it at this time,” the Omnimedix chief said in an e-mail.

Intel and Dossia refused to provide copies of legal documents filed to date. Spokeswoman Love says, “It’s the policy of Dossia not to discuss our relationships with our contractors.”

Love adds, “We’re in discussion with a number of other vendors, but it’s premature to talk about that now.”

As of Tuesday morning, Omnimedix still had a prominent link to Dossia on its home page.

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