“Microsoft Wants Your Health Records”

Just a note to flag the big online health news of the day: Microsoft has officially launched its new consumer health management platform, HealthVault — “a trusted place to store your personal health information,” complete with a specialized health search engine.Ms_healthvault

The service is designed “to help patients coordinate disparate pieces of health-care information, from lab results and prescription records to X-rays and daily blood pressure and allergy readings.”

This morning, BusinessWeek, The New York Times, CNN Money, and just about everybody else is buzzing about the announcement.

And the buzzwords are: Privacy, Compatibility, and Security. As in, will consumers really be willing to put their most personal data into a file server that’s potentially available to prying eyes? Microsoft promises locked-down security.

BusinessWeek also notes, however, that “patient health records are about as resistant to information technology as the common cold is to a cure.” This is due to the fact that many doctors are already strapped for time, and have no real economic incentive to digitize all their patient data. This goes for doctors in small practices all the way up to large hospital settings. “The amount of training needed to switch over to computerized systems may be more trouble than it’s worth for many time-stressed physicians.”

Cocky as ever, Microsoft insists it can break through all the traditional barriers to EMR (electronic medical records). Here’s why:

1) By offering HealthVault as a free online repository, the company has essentially “changed the economic equation so that hospitals and doctors don’t need to invest in new equipment” in order to use EMR.

2) Microsoft is partnering with established medical records software providers like Allscripts to make it easy to send files over the Web to HealthVault. Also, doctors’ offices that don’t use such software can securely fax the data into a patient’s digital files.

3) Microsoft is betting on making a boatload of money (!) on the combination of HealthVault and another business that sells software to hospitals — “a billion-plus” in revenue according to Peter Neupert, new head of the company’s Health Solutions Group. The income from HealthVault will come from ad revenue associated with the built-in search capability offered by Medstory, a Foster City, CA, company acquired by Microsoft last February. Medstory’s health-specific results are grouped together under topics such as clinical studies, nutrition, and medication.

In the end, of course, patient buy-in is key. Will people flock to HealthVault? Check it out and let me know if it looks like a place that YOU would store YOUR medical records.


19 Responses

  1. Rob
    Rob October 4, 2007 at 10:26 am | | Reply

    I’m not seeing how this would be immediately useful. I’m covered under a Microsoft health plan – they definitely do some things through their providers quite well compared to other employers.

  2. PointClear Blog
    PointClear Blog October 4, 2007 at 10:54 am | | Reply

    Microsoft Launches Health Records Site

    One of our clients, CapMed, is getting a lot of great press associated with the launch of the Microsoft HealthVault. Here is a snippet from todays press release:
    Microsoft said CapMed, which already markets personal health record tools, will cr…

  3. Oxa Koba
    Oxa Koba October 4, 2007 at 1:23 pm | | Reply

    NO. Never. Under no circumstance do I want Microsoft even glancing from a far at my health records.

    I have zero percent confidence in their ability to protect, secure or make compatible anything. Ever.

  4. CrazyACpumper
    CrazyACpumper October 4, 2007 at 1:31 pm | | Reply

    I agree.

    Oxa, you forgot a couple:
    Nope. No way. No how. Zip. Zero. Zilch.

    While the “concept” is kinda nice, there are only so many who can really navigate sites of this type.

    Most Doctors cannot even write, can we “trust” them to navigate our records online?

    Security aside, do I really want my most personal information in cyberspace? Just waiting to be plucked by some hacker who is bored one day? And how would they use it? Against me?

    I deal enough with the people I know, I don’t want “cybers” on my case either….

  5. Challenge Diabetes
    Challenge Diabetes October 4, 2007 at 3:27 pm | | Reply

    Health Vault or Health Fault?

    So let me first say that eventually theyll get it right and all will be good in the world.

    However, my experience earlier today was not the out of the box experience I was hoping for or even anything close to my experience in 2001 with a nifty …

  6. BobbyS
    BobbyS October 4, 2007 at 8:37 pm | | Reply

    Very interesting. I would like to see how this works if I can upload my CGMS data and combine it with my cycling data on TrainingPeaks. Pretty cool stuff that would be great to view together. Not sure though, if MS can combine all the data sources together. And no, I’m not afraid of posting my health info on a “secure” website. Medtronic has my pump data (before Omnipod), the DMV knows I’m Type 1 and so does anyone else who knows me and what I did this summer. And i can guarantee you that those companies don’t have half the security MS has already implemented.

  7. pkingdesign
    pkingdesign October 4, 2007 at 8:49 pm | | Reply

    a NY Times article mentioned that Microsoft is partnering with Johnson & Johnson Lifescan to allow patients to import blood sugar records from their blood monitors.

    This is really nothing new; this functionality has been around for years. No telling if they’ll innovate and provide some more useful visualizations.

  8. Jens Olafson
    Jens Olafson October 4, 2007 at 9:37 pm | | Reply

    I don’t trust Microsoft to A) make software that works and isn’t buggy and a security risk and B) to provide a service that isn’t primarily about making money for them and their partners.
    I won’t go near this site/program/”service” and I’m highly suspicious of others like it.
    When insurance companies stop controlling health “care,” I’ll rethink my position on not giving ANY information about my health to ANYONE except my physician.

  9. Jack Miguel
    Jack Miguel October 5, 2007 at 6:19 am | | Reply

    Given MS poor record of security in it;s software I would never use this service nor use a doctor who uses this service. MS is in this for money ONLY and nothing else. Lockdown secuirty – that must have Billy Goat Gates laughing so hard he must be crying.

  10. Dan Fahey
    Dan Fahey October 5, 2007 at 6:55 am | | Reply

    This issue is much larger than Microsoft. There are two risk factors: the potential for piracy as data is being streamed to/from the Microsfot datatbase, and the risk of someone breaking in to the database itself.
    The track record of some of America’s largest companies [e.g., TJ MAXX; the Federal Government] in allowing infiltration into their databases is quite poor, and here we are talking about the most sensitive of personal records, one’s medical history.
    Proof of iron-clad security must PRECEDE this kind of activity.

  11. Kevin
    Kevin October 5, 2007 at 10:06 am | | Reply

    Security is a funny thing when you consider that armed with little more than a person’s home address (which is easily found via an Internet search), a screwdriver and a telephone repairman’s phone (the one with the alligator clips), a person who wanted to could listen to your every conversation over your landline phone.

    Most people don’t notice those green posts sticking up by the street in the typical residential neighborhood but there’s a wire to your house in there.

    Security is always a relative trade-off.

  12. Elijah Meyer
    Elijah Meyer October 6, 2007 at 7:33 pm | | Reply

    “Microsoft promises locked-down security.”

    Man, that’s rich. Seriously? Just… wow.

  13. Bernard Farrell
    Bernard Farrell October 8, 2007 at 12:20 pm | | Reply


    Looks like you have a little comment spam above me. As for HealthVault, Microsoft had a half-page op ed piece in the Wall Street Journal. I think that like many things the first instance will be awful, but they’ll eventually figure out how to make it work.

    And you know my normal soapbox speech. Anything that improves data standards and data sharing ultimately will be a good thing. I’ll be watching to see what happens, especially on the HealthVault blog: http://blogs.msdn.com/healthvault/.

  14. AmyT
    AmyT October 8, 2007 at 12:25 pm | | Reply

    Thanks on both counts, Bernard.

  15. Israel
    Israel October 15, 2007 at 8:44 pm | | Reply

    not sure this is anything i will ever be using. i dont see the need.

  16. Marc Dencker
    Marc Dencker October 31, 2007 at 3:34 pm | | Reply

    I quite like it; My son got diagnosed a year ago and I have struggled to find good ways of storing and sharing the data;
    healthvault allows me to have his school nurse upload data from his meter he keeps at school, me to upload data from our home meter and I can give permissions to his diabetes nurse in the hospital to take a look at it or download it into excel.

    we just need some good software that can do charts and insulin dose recommendations.

    BTW for full disclosure I work as an architect at Microsoft with our large enterprise healthcare and life sciences customers. feel free to drop me a note.

  17. Personal Health Records
    Personal Health Records October 31, 2008 at 3:09 am | | Reply

    eMediReport is the most convenient and secured platform for doctors to view and access the patient appointments and health records online. Patients can consult online best doctors for any medical consultation and can also make available their medical records

  18. Online Health Records
    Online Health Records December 22, 2008 at 2:15 am | | Reply

    Personal Health Records allows patient to provide doctors with valuable health information that can help improve the quality of care that patient receives. Personal Health Records can help to reduce or eliminate duplicate tests and allow you to receive faster, safer treatment and care in an emergency and helps to play a more active role in yours and your loved ones’ healthcare.

  19. Abhishek
    Abhishek June 3, 2010 at 2:25 pm | | Reply


    Awarded web based EMR software, EHR software, Medical billing and medical Practice Management Software.

    Waiting Room Solutions,
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