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Microsoft’s (NSDQ: MSFT) bid for a major role in the crowed consumer health care info area went live today. Microsoft HealthVault (beta, of course) is a software and services platform designed to help consumers manage personal health care info. As expected, it’s ambitious and has a lot of moving parts including a website, HealthVault Search (Microsoft acquired consumer search firm Medstory in February), and a software app that enables data uploads from various health and fitness devices. Release.
HealthVault Connection Center: The desktop utility uses drivers from various device manufacturers to collect and manage information like blood pressure, blood glucose, heart rate. It requires Vista or XP, WMP 11, etc.
Privacy: One of the most difficult issues for any company in this space and for consumers — ensuring privacy. Microsoft is working with the Coalition for Patient Privacy. HealthVault prohibits onward transfer of data without explicit informed consent and includes data protection requirements in advertiser contracts.
Accounts: The free accounts require Windows Live or Passport IDs. Users can decided which info is shared case by case. The launch partner list is pretty small for now — opening the beta now is meant to lure more. The emphasis is on managing health and wellness with most of the data coming from the professionals, not the individuals. According to the NYT, NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital has started a pilot project.
Microsoft appears to be well ahead of Google, which recently lost Adam Bosworth, head of its health info efforts for nearly two years. Steve Case’s RevolutionHealth.com started testing in January and left beta in April. The comment thread at Lifehacker highlights how one of the biggest pluses for Microsoft — its own brand — may also be one of the biggest minuses.
WSJ: “A company executive said the company has been working with two different outside ‘hacker’ organizations to test the security of the site. Beyond consumers, Microsoft’s biggest obstacle may be physicians and other medical professionals, some of whom have been slow to change established practices or to embrace new technology offerings such as HealthVault.”
NYT: Peter Neupert, the VP in charge of the MSFT health group: “The value of what we