Microsoft Collaborates with AMA on HealthVault

Microsoft joins with the American Medical Association to allow physician access to patients' online Microsoft HealthVault records, which contain self-reported medical history. Microsoft has previously entered into HealthVault partnerships with medical institutions such as the Mayo Clinic.

Microsoft is collaborating with the American Medical Association, allowing physicians to access patient records stored on Microsoft's HealthVault application via a Web-based portal. That portal, currently being beta tested, will be launched in early 2010.

The AMA is developing the portal with Covisint, a subsidiary of Compuware. HealthVault contains self-reported patient health information, which physicians will be able to access from the point of care through the portal. The portal will allow for personalized content, search capabilities and networking opportunities.

"The use of electronic medical records, and health information technology overall, holds great promise for improving patient care and increasing practice efficiency," Dr. James Rohack, president-elect of the AMA, said in a statement. "Having ready access to patient information can help physicians make treatment decisions and reduce the time spent gathering this information, resulting in more face-to-face time with patients."

This is not Microsoft's first partnership involving HealthVault.

In April, Microsoft joined with the Mayo Clinic to launch Mayo Clinic Health Manager, which utilizes Microsoft's HealthVault technology to store patients' medical information and send them individualized health guidance and recommendations based on the Mayo Clinic's clinical expertise.

The Mayo Clinic Health Manager also gives patients the option of uploading updated data from home health devices and receiving reminders about their medical care. Features scheduled to roll out throughout 2009 include management tools for Type 2 diabetes, high cholesterol and high blood pressure.

Microsoft rolled out HealthVault in October 2007, with the intention of giving consumers an encrypted repository for their medical information from which they could send information to physicians and caregivers.

In April 2008, Grad Conn, health care and life sciences senior director for Microsoft's global consumer strategy, referred to HealthVault as "PayPal for health information."

Perhaps recognizing the potential market for online health care applications, Google unveiled Google Health in February 2008. Originally designed for users looking to store their personal health information online, Google Health was upgraded in March 2009 to allow that information to be sent to doctors and trusted contacts.

Soon after that, Google announced that it would participate in a pilot program launched by the CMS (Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services) to allow Medicare beneficiaries to input their Medicare claims into Google Health.

Google Health attracted controversy from some pundits and protestors, however, who felt that the application needed safeguards in place to prevent wrong medical data from being passively entered in the system.