Microsoft rolls out encrypted e-mail features in its HealthVault personal health platform in collaboration with the federal Direct Project health record exchange initiative.
Microsoft has announced it will integrate encrypted e-mail functionality
into its HealthVault
personal health platform.
The new feature allows doctors to exchange messages with patients using the
federal Direct Project's security standard for developing HIEs (health
information exchanges). Patients can receive a full view of their medical
history from doctors and use electronic communication to transfer it into their
personal health records, Microsoft reports.
HealthVault allows users to manage medication schedules, store lab test
results and keep track of fitness goals. It also directs patients to other
online tools to manage chronic conditions such as allergies, diabetes and heart
The second phase of the government's guidelines on meaningful use of
electronic health records calls for secure online patient messaging, according
to Peter Neupert, corporate vice president of Microsoft's health solutions
Eventually, providers will be able to send secure messages to each other and
transfer patient records within HealthVault, Neupert wrote in a blog
. This information is critical for doctors to be able to make decisions
regarding patient care, Neupert noted.
Disparate systems in health care prevent information from being easily shared,
whether in paper file folders or inaccessible electronic systems, according to
"Historically, the data has been hard to get," Neupert wrote.
"Within the hospital, it is trapped in siloed systems that support
different departments but aren't connected."
The "open government" Direct Project was created to make this
exchange of information easier. "The initial goal of the Direct Project is
to specify a simple, secure, scalable, standards-based way for participants to
send authenticated, encrypted health information directly to known, trusted
recipients over the Internet," Gartner analyst Wes Rishel said in a
Along with EHR developers AllScripts and MedPlus
as well as HIE provider VisionShare, Microsoft is an early member of the Direct
Project, Neupert wrote.
Microsoft announced the update to HealthVault on Feb. 2. at a Washington,
D.C., Health & Human Services
Department event highlighting Direct
Project pilot implementations
and Rhode Island.
"This is an important milestone in our journey to achieve secure health
information exchange, and it means that health care providers large and small
will have an early option for electronic exchange of information supporting
their most basic and frequently needed uses," Dr. David Blumenthal,
national coordinator for health information technology, said in a statement
regarding the Direct Project. On Feb. 3 Blumenthal announced
he will step down this spring
to return to an academic career at Harvard
Direct Project pilot projects will soon follow in California,
York, Oklahoma, Tennessee
and Texas, according to HHS.
The Obama administration aims for formal adoption of the standards and wide
availability for health care providers by 2012.
"This is a new approach to public sector leadership, and it
works," Aneesh Chopra, U.S.
chief technology officer, said in a statement. "Instead of depending
on a traditional top-down approach, stakeholders worked together to develop an
open, standardized platform that dramatically lowers costs and barriers to
secure health information exchange. The Direct Project is a great example of
how government can work as a convener to catalyze new ideas and business models
MedPlus and VisionShare will demonstrate Microsoft's new HealthVault e-mail
functionality at the HIMSS11 health care IT, which will be held in Orlando,
Fla., Feb. 20-24.