Microsoft HealthVault opens to the world……. or at least a lot more of it

imageWhenever I travel outside the US, and even inside the US, I tend to get lots of questions about Microsoft’s platform for personal health records, HealthVault. I say “platform” because HealthVault is much more than a site for storing your personal health information. It allows you to take control of that information and securely share it with whomever needs to see it; your doctor, a family member, a caregiver, etc. HealthVault also connects to a wide variety of consumer health devices like blood pressure cuffs, glucose meters, weight scales, pedometers and other health monitors making it easy to upload information to your record in HealthVault. Finally, HealthVault is a platform that allows healthcare providers, professional organizations, insurance companies, and others to easily provide applications and services that will help you manage a chronic condition or improve your well being.

imageHealthVault was first made available to people in the United States in October of 2007. Then, by working with partners and defining the unique regulatory and privacy needs of each country, we rolled out HealthVault in Canada, the United Kingdom, Germany, and did a few pilots in China too. But we clearly saw that the need for a solution like HealthVault is universal. Regardless of how healthcare is paid for, every region of the world is struggling to keep up with rising healthcare costs and deliver necessary services to its citizens. Every country is also looking for ways to increase citizen engagement in health and healthcare.

There are a number of “personal health record” initiatives taking shape in other countries. The interest in HealthVault or a “HealthVault-like” approach to providing personal health records for citizens as well as a way to facilitate secure health information sharing is keen around the world. It became increasingly clear that our initial approach of dropping fully-independent “instances” of HealthVault into every country, one country at a time, simply couldn’t scale quickly enough to meet the worldwide demand.

I am therefore pleased to share some exciting news from our HealthVault team. My colleague Sean Nolan, chief software architect for HealthVault, released this information on his Family Health Guy Blog today:

imageFrom day one it’s been our goal to expand the work we’re doing with HealthVault to other parts of the world…… It’s always been crystal clear that an understanding of local needs is critical to acceptance of a new platform like HealthVault. That’s as true as ever, but we’ve learned a lot more since getting started……..

For the last many months, we’ve been working hard to adjust our model to support a broader rollout. We’re in the final stages of that work and I’m excited to announce that over the course of the year we’ll be expanding access to our current UK-based HealthVault service to users across Europe and beyond. With this change, local organizations will have the opportunity to offer users the benefits of connectivity between health applications and a personal HealthVault record.

Our first step in this rollout will bring Microsoft HealthVault directly to residents of Germany by the end of June. We are fully committed to ensuring that people worldwide have better ways to collect, manage, share and use the information they need to get and stay healthier.

HealthVault----coming soon to an Internet near you. Awesome!

Well said, Sean! This is clearly the start of something very good for all of us who care about our health.

And speaking of health, I’m writing this from Gothenburg, Sweden, where on Wednesday I’ll deliver a keynote at Vitalis, the largest health information communications technology conference in Scandinavia. If you happen to be in the audience, be sure to come up and say “hello”.

Bill Crounse, MD Senior Director, Worldwide Health Microsoft

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