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Oct 4
Microsoft Tries To Fill Health Information & Connectivity Void With HealthVault

Today, Microsoft announced the launch of a new series of tools designed to helpHealth_Vault.png caregivers, physicians and patients manage, store and securely share their health information.  According to Microsoft’s Peter Neupert:

“People are concerned to find themselves at the center of the healthcare ecosystem today because they must navigate a complex web of disconnected interactions between providers, hospitals, insurance companies and even government agencies. Our focus is simple: to empower people to lead healthy lives. The launch of HealthVault makes it possible for people to collect their private health information on their terms and for companies across the health industry to deliver compatible tools and services built on the HealthVault platform.”



Private Sector Going Where Government Has Not Yet Successfully Tread

This effort is even more intriguing given that Dr. David Brailer, who served as the nation’s first national health IT coordinator from 2004 to 2006, was tasked to help bridge the information gaps between various sectors of the US health system.  When Brailer resigned from his position, it was viewed as a blow to efforts to improve health information access and exchange.

Today, Microsoft is stepping into the breach with new software applications that will enable people to find and share information directly with their physicians and others.  

Where’s Managed Care?

While the panel Microsoft convened to discuss HealthVault featured many major players in the health system, managed care did not appear to be well-represented.  (However, I may have this impression because I dialed into the teleconference late.)  Perhaps one reason was that some on the panel, especially Deborah Peel, MD, founder of the Patient Privacy Rights Foundation, do not have a very good opinion of managed care organizations (MCOs). 

During Microsoft’s event, Peel said that consumers don’t trust health insurers.  
She believes this is because they feel that MCOs gather information from patients solely to find new ways to deny care.  

Despite Pel’s hostility toward managed care, Microsoft will have to involve them  in this effort.  This is mainly because many interface with the healthcare system via their insurance companies.  In addition, companies like Aetna are developing and deploying online health records to help speed information exchange and improve care.  Sometimes it may feel more natural for patients to work with their insurers to build a health record.  However, in many other cases, it may not.  This is because some employers change MCOs yearly in search of lower premiums.   

What About Security & Distrust Of Microsoft?

Although Microsoft’s reputation has improved in recent years, it is still distrusted by many.  In addition, Americans are well aware that Microsoft has not always been successful in containing security breaches.  Although Microsoft’s panelists assured the audience that HealthVault is secure, the proof will be in the pudding.  There are lots of illnesses and conditions that people keep secret for fear of being discriminated against, stigmatized or shunned. Can we be sure that Microsoft has the ability to keep this very important medical information safe?

I think Microsoft’s effort is admirable.  We’ll see whether Americans embrace it and if it successfully addresses the issues I (and others) are raising.

3 Comments/Trackbacks

Terrific and insightful post, Fard! Now that the consumer is at least the defacto recognized/relevant customer, and it seems Adam Bosworth's speeches and leadership with GoogleHealth have had an impact over the last year -- the REAL question is will moms like/trust/embrace Microsoft - or Google, when not if, their own product debuts? There is a track record....

Thats a great effort by microsoft. It may have a few issues initially but would definitely help the people.

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