Scaling up our support options

As it turns out, there are a ton of people working on HealthVault-related projects. Hospitals, labs, payers and other health systems sharing data with their patients; pharmacies helping to manage medications; direct to consumer startups building innovative tools; device manufacturers participating in the "Works with Microsoft HealthVault" program; academic institutions doing research --- the list has grown way more quickly than we expected when we started out.

This is awesome. But it does create a challenge around providing great support to that large and fast-growing developer community.

Our MSDN site has always been a pretty great resource, and the good folks working on developer support have created a ton of content to help HealthVault developers be successful. Eric and Vaibhav have done great things with their blogs, and posts to our developer forum tend to get answered pretty quickly --- although we can't take all the credit for that; we owe a huge debt of thanks to Raj of Get Real Consulting, who by now knows more about HealthVault that most of us on the team (by the way, if you're a HealthVault developer and you're not using Get Real's X-ray utility, you are really missing out).

Still, there have always been cases where partners have needed timely, specific help on issues that just require one-to-one interaction. The volume of these keeps going up, and we've gotten to a point where we really can't provide the level of service we want by calling in engineers and developers on an ad hoc basis. So - time to grow again!

We now have a team of dedicated HealthVault developers who are ready to help with one-on-one troubleshooting and guidance on building HealthVault-integrated apps. This past weekend we launched a new email-based HealthVault Developer Support offering. Here's how it works:

  • Go to or the "Support" tab on our MSDN site.
  • Submit your question via a web form (English only for now).
  • One of our developers gets back to you over email within one business day.

When we exit Beta (sometime before the end of calendar 2009), there will be a $99 per incident charge for this premium support option, but until then it is free. It's a great complement to our existing, community-based support options --- use it for confidential questions, or if you need a deeper discussion than you've been able to have on the forums.

Just as cool, we're starting to see third-party training options become available as well. During the Connected Health Conference in June, I had the opportunity to meet David Platt of Rolling Thunder Computing. David has been writing about and teaching .NET and other technologies for a long time, and has recently created a full three day HealthVault training course that he offers at his location or yours. I haven't sat through the training, but David is clearly a smart dude and talented teacher --- and the syllabus looks great. The next scheduled class is next month, September 23-25, and you can learn more at If you attend a session --- leave a comment here and let me know what you think!

What a great time to be working on personal health. Progress like this reminds me that Microsoft really is built on developer DNA --- we are only successful when our developer community is successful. We still have holes, of course (more sample code and shared SDK controls, anyone?)  --- but we are getting there. I'd love to know what you think we need to do next to keep the momentum strong.