Why we keep at it.

One of the things I always get asked in interviews is, “How many HealthVault users do you have?” The answer rolls off of my tongue without even thinking about it. Personal health engagement is a new concept for people, and we’ve always said that a lot of things have to come together before we’ll see adoption really start to hockey stick. Our community of users is pretty big and growing quickly, but we are still laying the foundation, so we focus on partners, devices, connection points --- that kind of thing --- instead of accounts.

All true, and there are lots of reasons to believe that critical mass is coming. Blue Button, the Direct Project, mobile adoption, imaging, international deals --- all the indicators are pointing the right way. Some of you may have noticed that I just bet John Moore a Red Sox jersey (Schilling for me, Wake for him) that this time next year he will have changed his tune about the impact of personal health platforms like HealthVault.

But still, it’s a long road --- and it’s sure nice when you see evidence that it matters. A few days ago, I got the most fantastic note in my inbox from one of the folks we work with here in HSG. It made me super-proud and honestly a bit teary. I asked if I could share, and he said yes --- so here you go (highlights are mine). And if you’re one of the believers taking this journey with us … thank you.

From: [Removed]
Sent: Sun 5/15/2011 4:59 PM
Subject: What we do is important and it does make a difference - Real World Personal Story

The work Microsoft has done with HealthVault is truly amazing and yesterday I had a personal experience where it made a real difference for my extended family and I wanted to share it..

When I joined MSFT in May 2009 I opened a HealthVault account for my extended family and populated it with my family’s personal medical data. This included my mother-in-law who had open heart surgery in 2002 which included a mitral valve replacement. This past week she experienced an acute unrelated problem with her back and was admitted to the hospital on Friday afternoon. This was the same hospital that she had the heart surgery in nine years prior. Yesterday, Saturday morning, I got a call from my wife asking me if I had the serial number of her mother’s heart value “in my computer” because the hospital radiology staff needed it to confirm it was safe for her mother to have an urgent MRI scan for her new back problem. Well the answer was yes I did have the detailed information needed including the mitral valve’s manufacturer make, model, Serial Number, description/composition, size, date of surgery, the heart surgeon’s name and phone number. It was all located in her mother’s record in my family HealthVault account. I had added this information in her HealthVault record in September 2009 from her wallet card that she had received at the time of the surgery in 2002 . My mother-in-law did not have that wallet card with her in the hospital because her wallet was at home (in-patients often do not keep their valuables in the hospital room upon admission. ) But, yes that information residing in her HealthVault record was available to me, the family’s designated virtual medical record curator. With a few online mouse clicks I had instant access to her Medtronic mitral value requested metadata and was able to export, copy/paste it into an email and transmit it from my home computer to my wife’s mobile phone. She received this remote historical data at the hospital within two minutes of her request and delivered it to the hospital clinical staff so that they could safely proceed with the required MRI scan without delay. Without this immediate access to this critical historical medical information, patient care would have been delayed for patient safety reasons. That is, the MRI scan could not have be done safely without prior knowledge of the details of the non-metallic composition of the replacement heart valve including its serial number for verification by clinical protocol.

Interesting to me was why this same hospital did not have weekend access to this historical medical information on their patient who had this heart surgery and multiple radiology studies (reports) in their hospital nine years prior. Most likely this was because the records in 2002 were still paper based and had not been migrated to their current digital systems. This is a highly regarded hospital in the Denver area known for its heart surgery center and has extensive, modern electronic record systems (PACS, EMR/CPOE, and many others), but the remote historical data they needed now was not immediately available internally after hours and was therefore requested directly from the patient’s family. Because we had adopted HealthVault for our family personal medical records two years prior we were ready and able to accurately deliver on that request without delay.

As a follow-up to this good news story, my mother-in-law had the MRI Scan yesterday on schedule and based on these timely results, targeted treatment was initiated the same day. She and our family were reassured that the problem was not as serious as originally thought and definitive treatment is now scheduled for Monday am. This was a win-win-win based on timely access to personal medical information available across the continuum of care.. The patient was treated efficiently based on knowledge of remote prior and current medical data which was made immediately available, the family was reassured based on timely test results, and the hospital was able to optimize and personalize patient care over the weekend after routine working hours compliant with their clinical safety protocols without compromise. Granted there may have been other ways to get the same historical medical information needed but in this case the HealthVault public cloud access proved most efficient and timely for our family.

BTW, three out of my four parent/in-laws have had heart valve replacements over the past nine years and are in their mid-80’s, two had aortic valves and one had this mitral valve. Even as an experienced physician it is hard for me to keep their remote complex medical history details straight. HealthVault has been a great online electronic tool for me to provide timely family second opinions, medication lists and up-to-date medical histories when needed for their increasingly frequent episodes of unplanned medical encounters. This is especially true when I am traveling on business or pleasure and get the call for help..  

The prevalence of degenerative aortic stenosis in the elderly (older than 75 years old) is between 2% and 9%. Many of these seniors will have critical, obstructive disease and may become candidates for Aortic Valve replacement. When adopted by patients, HealthVault is an excellent public resource for always available medical device documentation. Patients and their designated extended family would have ubiquitous access to this critical medical data online 7/24/365/worldwide.  

Yes, what we are doing in healthcare is important and it is making a real difference for patients and their families. This is only one small example of how it has helped me and my family this week.