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Kaiser Partnership Gives Microsoft A Leg Up In PHR Wars

Response From Microsoft Added, Please See Below

For the moment, Microsoft may have the edge in the personal health record (PHR)healthvault.png wars.  Yesterday, the company announced that it has initiated a partnership with managed care company Kaiser Permanente.  Kaiser will link its PHR system, My Health Record, with Microsoft’s HealthVault.  One hundred fifty-six thousand Kaiser employees will participate in the pilot program.  

What intrigued me about this newest development was the connection Microsoft and Kaiser are making between patients’ health information and physician feedback.  HealthVault will provide patients with valuable information about what their medical information means.  According to the Microsoft press release:

“A distinction between Kaiser Permanente’s online health tool and others offered by insurers is the range and relevance of the information itself:  In addition to containing benefits and eligibility information, My Health Manager also is powered by both clinical data entered by physicians, going much deeper than the standard claims-based PHRs on the market.  For example, consumers can not only see a record of a test that they had, but also the result of that test and in some cases, direct feedback from their doctors about the result. Since both the patient and physician use the data in My Health Manager, consumers are actively using their Kaiser Permanente PHR to communicate with their physician and support their health goals.

This is why I think Microsoft now has a leg up in the PHR arena.  Linking clinical information to advice from a physician makes the PHR much more valuable to patients.

However, there is one thing that still bothers me about the Kaiser/Microsoft effort: portability.  What happens to all of that wonderful information when someone leaves the Kaiser family?  I know of some people who switch providers on a regular basis, so all of this valuable information may be unavailable to them.  I’m sure the folks at Microsoft have thought about this, so I’d love to hear from them about this issue.


Update: Microsoft spokeswoman Sarah Johnson sent me an answer to my question re: portability.  She writes: "Users will be able to store information from their My Health Manager personal health record in their HealthVault record, and have the ability to share it with providers outside of the Kaiser network.  And if a patient leaves Kaiser, their health information is in HealthVault and can be taken wherever they go. In addition, users will be able to combine info from the MHM PHR with information from health & wellness devices, like a home BP monitor, for a better picture of their health."


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