Regulation, Data Standards Could Decide HealthVault's Future

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

Wes Rishel, an analyst with Gartner, suggested that Microsoft could hang on to HealthVault until government regulations on meaningful use mandating that physicians pass patient data from EHRs to PHRs are made clearer.

"That would put them in a holding mode for another year," Rishel told eWEEK in an email.

The provision on PHR data flowing from EHRs is expected to be published in April, Rishel noted. "Hospitals would have to comply in 2013 or 2014, depending on when they first entered the program," he said.

As far as successful PHRs, Moore noted the health record platform of health maintenance organization (HMO) Kaiser Permanente, called My Health Manager. The Kaiser service allows patients to view their medical history, email doctors and schedule appointments. The company has 40 percent of its members using My Health Manager, said Moore.

HealthVault could be a useful tool for consumers to store data from multiple doctors and for multiple conditions to more than one device, said Moore.

Regarding HealthVault, Moore said, "I do hope that they remain viable in the market because I believe the market needs something like that, something separate outside a given individual provider organization."

HealthVault works well as far as allowing patients to access lab results, Shahid Shah, CEO of IT consulting firm Netspective Communications and author of the Healthcare IT Guy blog, told eWEEK.

Still, HealthVault has room for improvement in providing two-way communication for patients and allowing for appointment scheduling, Shah noted.

Meanwhile, Qualcomm's 2net platform offers an alternative to the PHR model of HealthVault, Shah suggested. A wireless gateway, 2net allows patients to send medical data from monitoring devices to the cloud, and then to mobile applications.

The 2net platform allows mobile devices to pull data from Qualcomm's cloud while HealthVault pulls data from large health care enterprises. In addition, 2net offers a strong two-way communication feature, said Shah.

"Microsoft could offer something similar to 2net with pass-through capability," said Shah. "Allowing that connectivity between devices to the patients could change the way people build applications," he explained.

"Developers could use HealthVault as a pass-through, and patients would never know HealthVault was being used," Shah added.

The struggles of the PHR platform to take off won't mean the end of HealthVault, said Shah. "I don't think HealthVault could close down because there is some money they're making off of it, whereas Google wasn't making any money off of it at all," Shah said, noting that Google Health was more of a trial compared with HealthVault.



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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