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Bill Gates Wants Your Medical Records—Microsoft Boots Up Electronic Medical Records Plan

Microsoft made its long awaited entry into consumer health care by unveiling an electronic personal health record platform designed to be compatible with other health care technology.

September 16, 2011
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Microsoft made its long awaited entry into consumer health care Thursday, October 4, by unveiling an electronic personal health record platform designed to be compatible with other health care technology.

The launch of Microsoft HealthVault comes less than two weeks after an employer-led coalition, Dossia, announced that it was switching technology developers for the creation of a personal health record for its employees.

Colin Evans, chief executive of Dossia and an employee of Intel, one of the group’s founding member companies, said Dossia would be built to be able to interface with other health system platforms such as Microsoft’s HealthVault. Evans says other software applications could be plugged into Dossia.

Microsoft is providing on its Web site a developer’s tool kit to allow companies to build “HealthVault-based solutions.” The Redmond, Washington-based software company said that 40 applications would be available through HealthVault, including the services of ActiveHealth Management, a disease management company whose clients include Marriott. ActiveHealth said its care management technology would be featured on HealthVault.

At first glance, the HealthVault Web site provides many of the same resources as platforms developed by Revolution Health and WebMD, including a health care search engine. HealthVault says its software and service technology is aimed at helping people better manage their health.

HealthVault includes a personal health record that individuals populate with medical information themselves. Dossia would be designed to automatically update the health record with claims information and by medical providers.

Google is also developing a widely anticipated health technology platform, Google Health, which may compete with employer-led efforts to get employees more engaged in managing their health and health care costs.

"This is a great example of how the major tech companies are going to provide the jolt the health care industry has needed for decades," says J.D. Kleinke, chairman and chief executive of Omnimedix, a nonprofit technology organization that was originally hired—and later fired—by Dossia to develop personal health records.
 
Glen Tullman, chief executive of Allscripts, a health care software company and one of the companies whose products would be accessible through HealthVault, says that for personal health records to be widely used, they must be compatible across different technologies. This would allow consumers to retain their records regardless of who their employer is or where they get their health insurance.

“All these systems are going to be plug-and-play,” he says. “Health care is too diverse to believe that any system is going to be the one system.”

Jeremy Smerd

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