Friday, October 5, 2007

Microsoft Trumps Google with Online Health Service

Microsoft has beaten Google to the punch on offering an online health records solution.

Both companies have been developing online systems for Electronic Medical Records (EMRs) for quite some time now. A prototype of Google Health was shown to health professionals and advisors in August of this year, but has yet to launch and may be experiencing difficulties after having recently lost its leader Adam Bosworth.

While Google Health remains in limbo, Microsoft's HealthVault, announced in Washington yesterday, is now online and includes an impressive array of partners, as pointed out by the New York Times:

The organizations that have signed up for HealthVault projects with Microsoft include the American Heart Association, Johnson & Johnson LifeScan, New York-Presbyterian Hospital, the Mayo Clinic and MedStar Health, a network of seven hospitals in the Baltimore-Washington region. The partner strategy is a page from Microsoft's old playbook. Convincing other companies to build upon its technology, and then helping them do it, was a major reason Windows became the dominant personal computer operating system.

The service is free to consumers and revenue will be generated by search driven advertising, something ubiquitous in Google's online applications such as Gmail.

Information Week compares this to other efforts :

Microsoft's consumer-centric model for PHRs differs from the approach others are taking, especially employer-sponsored PHRs, like Dossia, a consortium of employers including Intel and Wal-Mart, which is building a PHR system for its workers.

Although Dossia says its employer members will not have access to workers health data, in the larger picture, trust and privacy questions are issues that hinder consumer confidence in electronic medical records systems overall, including PHRs offered by health plans and insurers.

However, with the consumer being the controller of data in HealthVault, users may be more accepting, said Deborah Peel, founder of privacy advocacy group, the Patient Privacy Right Foundation, who was a speaker at the HealthVault event.

CRN reminds us of prior Microsoft attempts using this consumer driven model:
Whether consumers will trust Microsoft to manage sensitive health information is an open question. Microsoft takes pains in HealthVault's terms of service to specify that it will not use any information stored at the site for commercial purposes or release it to any outside parties without explicit permission. However, customer concerns about giving Microsoft access to a treasure trove of personal data killed off Microsoft's Hailstorm project five years ago, which aimed to aggregate users' financial and other personal details in one Microsoft-owned repository.

SOURCE: "Microsoft Rolls Out Personal Health Records" 10/04/07
SOURCE: "Microsoft Unveils Free Web Health Tools for Consumers" 10/04/07
SOURCE: "Microsoft Beats Google To Consumer Health Market" 10/04/07
photo courtesy of Orangeacid using this Creative Commons license

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