Microsoft HealthVault is nothing like Google Health

By delivering an SDK to hospitals, other medical software makers, and equipment makers, Microsoft hopes to become the software glue linking the health care system together. That's what HealthVault is.

Microsoft HealthVault platform from Be Well fund siteMicrosoft HealthVault is a platform for sharing medical data. Google Health could, if it chose, become a HealthVault application.

Microsoft might even pay to help make that happen, th company said at HIMSS. (Click here for the full drawing at right.)

Grad Conn, senior director of Microsoft's Health Solutions Group, told ZDNet that the Cleveland Clinic, the non-profit hospital which is Google's beta partner in its initial Google Health effort, could apply to Microsoft's Be Well Fund for the money needed to make that happen.

Or someone at Google could download the Software Development Kit from Microsoft's CodePlex and make it happen. Given that Google is becoming Microsoft-rich, that might be the more moral way to fund it.

"It's coincidental that the Microsoft EU announcement came out the day after this was delivered," Conn told ZDNet. But both represent the same trend, a move by Microsoft to share its APIs and become more open, as it was in the early 1980s.

Most coverage of HealthVault has focused on its use in creating Personal Health Records, using EMR data downloaded from hospitals. "The user requests a digital copy. Once it's on HealthVault it's outside the HIPAA box."

A better comparison might be to PayPal. "HealthVault stores data so it can be shared. You only store the data you want to share."

HealthVault's importance goes far beyond that. Companies like Medtronic could use the SDK to create new value from its blood sugar testing devices, or perhaps its pacemakers.

"A platform like HealthVault lets consumers opt-in to share the output from a device measuring their blood sugar."

By delivering an SDK to hospitals, other medical software makers, and equipment makers, Microsoft hopes to become the software glue linking the health care system together. That's what HealthVault is.

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