Microsoft HealthVault's Survival Uncertain With Advent of GE Joint Venture

By Brian T. Horowitz  |  Posted 2012-01-18 Print this article Print

title=Microsoft Sees Value in HealthVault} 

"We believe HealthVault has been very successful for us in terms of creating deep relationships with users and in terms of becoming that sort of platform of interoperability for the industry that we want it to be," said Nolan.

Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer could have shut down HealthVault when the joint venture with GE was announced if that was the company's intention, Nolan suggested.

"If Steve [Ballmer] wanted to shut down HealthVault, he had some great opportunity to do it in the noise of this joint venture, and he chose not to very explicitly."

In choosing to keep HealthVault out of the joint venture, Microsoft wanted patients to be able to connect with HealthVault in a more "loosely coupled way" than enterprise products such as Amalga, said Nolan.

Despite Amalga going into the joint venture, HealthVault remains integrated with the enterprise platform. "HealthVault will continue to be the primary means by which our Amalga customers interact with patients or with constituents outside the walls of the hospital," said Nolan. "We don't foresee any real change."

Microsoft continues to build new partnerships to HealthVault and add access for consumers on the go.

At the 2012 International Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, Microsoft, Ford Motor Co., health engagement company Healthrageous and architecture firm BlueMetal Architects announced a "doctor in your car" prototype system that would allow drivers to upload vital health data to the HealthVault cloud, then transfer the data to the Windows Azure cloud platform. Drivers would later retrieve graphical reports of their data when they leave the vehicle.

Microsoft also recently announced a version of HealthVault for the Windows Phone 7 platform. In addition, on Dec. 27, health site iTriage announced that it would integrate HealthVault into its iPhone application. iTriage provides a way to search for health information such as symptoms, diseases and medications as well as view descriptions, images and videos on medical topics.

Nolan sees HealthVault as an "ecosystem" that provides the "glue" for patients to access their health information in multiple ways, whether it's on the PC or on mobile devices. Nolan also sees HealthVault's open interface as a way to provide value for the platform.

"Even the folks that have been skeptical of us in the past tend to sort of look and see those pockets of success and that maybe there's something there," said Nolan.

Although analysts see HealthVault lasting through 2012, the future is, of course, unclear after that.

"I don't foresee Microsoft shutting down HealthVault altogether-at least not in 2012," Moore told eWEEK. "I can't say anything about 2013. I think at least for the foreseeable future, Microsoft has stated that they're committed to keeping HealthVault, and we'll wait and see." 

Brian T. Horowitz is a freelance technology and health writer as well as a copy editor. Brian has worked on the tech beat since 1996 and covered health care IT and rugged mobile computing for eWEEK since 2010. He has contributed to more than 20 publications, including Computer Shopper, Fast Company,, More, NYSE Magazine, Parents,, USA Weekend and, as well as other consumer and trade publications. Brian holds a B.A. from Hofstra University in New York.

Follow him on Twitter: @bthorowitz


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