With comparisons to both its Xbox platform and the PayPal online payment platform, Microsoft aims to correct common misperceptions about its HealthVault platform.
With comparisons to both Microsoft's Xbox platform and the PayPal
online payment platform, Microsoft aims to correct common
misperceptions about its HealthVault platform.
Grad Conn, Healthcare and Life Sciences senior director for global
consumer strategy, Microsoft, addressed attendees at Microsoft's Health
and Life Sciences Developer Conference held April 22 through 24 in
Atlantic City to explain that Microsoft is pioneering a new technology
category with Microsoft's recent Amalga and HealthVault launches.
"Amalga is definitely not just a health information system, it's not
just a data warehouse or a data mart, and it's not a personal health
record (PHR) or an electronic health record (EHR). We're coining a new
term, the Unified Intelligence system," Conn said. This means that
Amalga brings together any and all relevant patient information and
presents that information to clinical enterprise applications and
users, he said.
HealthVault, he said, also aggregates personal health information,
but allows consumers to control access to the information along
with the sharing of their own health information. HealthVault also
enables consumers to collaborate with caregivers and connect to new
sources of health information.
He said that some health care industry groups have expressed
concerns that, with these forays into the enterprise and consumer
health and life sciences market, Microsoft is trying to dominate the
industry and siphon customers.
To counter that assertion, Conn said Microsoft was simply trying to
provide a platform on top of which industry organizations and companies
can develop health and life sciences technology applications and
services for consumers. Conn offered Microsoft's Xbox gaming platform
as an example.
"In 1999 we didn't know anything about making games, but we knew how
to make development platforms and consoles," Conn said. Microsoft then
encouraged software and game developers to create games and
applications that ran on the Xbox platform. By 2001, Conn said,
Microsoft had a number of games to run on that platform.
HealthVault, he said, is in the same place that Xbox was in 1999.
"We don't know anything about cardiology, or cancer treatment or
managing diseases. But we're pretty good at storing data and making
and connecting applications," Conn said.
The goal was to provide ways for consumers to better understand
their health and health information and manage that information for
Conn explained that with consumers as the aggregators and the
controllers of to whom, how and when their information can be shared,
the traditional health information model is turned on its head.
"Right now, the mechanism for this is through HIPAA, which dictates
how to control patient privacy when patients don't control the
records," Conn said. HIPAA, he said, has very clear rules that patients
can request to see, copy, add to or delete any piece of health
information in their record, and HealthVault uses those same
procedures, but in a digital format.
"HealthVault seeks to integrate the data for an individual and
provides them control over that record," Conn said. That focus on
consumer control makes the HealthVault platform very similar to PayPal,
the ubiquitous online payment platform, he said.
"HealthVault is PayPal for health information. PayPal allows you to
store and share your financial information, if you choose to, and
HealthVault works the same way," Conn said. However, he stressed that,
with PayPal, users share only the pieces of their financial life that
they are comfortable making available to e-commerce sites. HealthVault
users are in complete control of information sharing, as well, Conn