Almost four years ago online health records were the next big thing in health care. People could record all of their health information online. They could share their records with hospitals and physicians offices to create some consistency between family doctors and specialists, and easy access to patient history if they wound up in the hospital. Both Google and Microsoft created online programs. Google has just declared the end of its program in January 1, 2012. Does this mean the end of Microsoft’s HealthVault?
Google’s announcement stated that the application “was not having the broad impact that we hoped it would” leading to the discontinuance of the program in January of 2012. People can download their information until January 1, 2013. The program allowed people to:
- Manage your Health Information Online
- Set Personal Health Goals
- Track your Progress
- Share your Health Information
- Personalize your Health Needs with Content and Apps/Devices
Unlike Microsoft, Google did not seem to gather a large variety of health industry endorsements. Which is ironic since a study of consumer users completed in 2009 showed that Google was the preferred application for individuals because of it’s ease of use. Still, Google did not seem to gather the health industry connections that Microsoft’s HealthVault did.
Microsoft HealthVault’s affiliation with well known nonprofits like the American Cancer Society, American Diabetes Association, and American Heart Association as well as it’s connection to CVS, Mayo Clinic Health Manager, Omron, Walgreens and many others seems to have given the program more credibility. Microsoft calls these connections HealthVault Solution Providers.
There was also talk of HealthVault’s adoption by the British Government in 2009. Last month, it turned out that HealthVault became a “complement” to the British NHS National Programme for IT (NPfIT) having been adopted by the South London and Maudsley (SLaM) mental health foundation trust.
Along with marketing to individuals, Microsoft recruited health related businesses and organizations with the following:
Why should you create HealthVault-enabled applications?
Create new business opportunities
Deliver more value to your customers and members. Whether it’s helping a community of chronic disease sufferers or driving interest in a charitable organization, more value can mean tighter relationships and greater adherence to treatment (or giving) plans.
Quickly deliver value to your members
HealthVault provides a set of services that you can use to quickly develop online tools for people with a specific condition or interest area or those that are interested in tracking health and fitness. By building applications natively on the HealthVault platform, solution providers can benefit from the storage capacity of Microsoft. HealthVault accounts are access-controlled, high-availability storage, which we scale as needed.
Bring increased traffic and visibility
Join the community. All live HealthVault-enabled solutions can be listed in the HealthVault Health Tools Directory.
What exactly are you delivering to your customers or members?
The power to share their health info with trusted family, friends, or health professionals. Your users control any data that they upload to HealthVault from your application, and can then share it with their doctor and other caregivers. They can also use this data in other HealthVault-compatible applications, enriching their end-to-end experience.
Good tools to make good sense out of data at their fingertips. A growing number of HealthVault-enabled health and fitness devices are helping more people collect informative health data. By integrating your application with HealthVault, you can enable users to interact with their device data using your application as the interface
In other words, Microsoft gathers individual health information by providing a free online health record and markets the HealthVault as a means for businesses and organizations to hook up with new customers and members. If you create a HealthVault account you can control who has access to the information contained therein.
Currently, you can allow access to other members of your family, close friends, and medical professionals. You can also allow other Programs access to your health records to access their health suggestions or services. You can grant limited or full access to any entity you choose including your coach, personal trainer, or pharmacist. Your records are not open to insurers unless they gain access through some other entity like a hospital or physicians office.
While Google Health was not able to generate the level of users that it wanted, Microsoft has turned online health information into a huge marketing scheme along with “convenience” for patients and health care providers. Microsoft isn’t talking about dismantling their program anytime soon.
As always it is your choice whether to sign up for the program or not but if you do, please weigh the possible advantages of the program, with the potential loss of privacy that may occur with any online information storage.