Healthvault enters China market

Microsoft is not the first U.S. software company to make a deal for China.

Microsoft Healthvault has gotten its first entree into the booming China health care market, through an agreement with iStoneSoft.

The initial agreement covers only WuXi, a city due east of Shanghai near Taihu Lake, but the aim is the whole market.

To accelerate solution development and market adoption, iSoftStone is launching a digital health innovation center in Wuxi, with support from Microsoft. This facility will include a HealthVault datacenter, a test lab for HealthVault software and device developers, and training facilities for solution providers that build on the HealthVault platform. Microsoft and iSoftStone will be responsible for the localization of HealthVault and will lead efforts to identify health and wellness scenarios for which they will recruit or build solutions in-market.

Microsoft is not the first U.S. software company to make a deal for China. MMR Global made a deal to create a Chinese version of its MyMedicalRecords Electronic Medical Record (EMR) last year.

Healthvault, however, is a Personal Health Record (PHR) system. The idea, in the U.S., is that a personal health record is downloaded to a publicly-accessible site and is owned by the patient, while the EMR is created by a clinic or hospital and remains subject to privacy controls.

It would be ironic if China, which is just now building a private health insurance market to replace a system many view as failed, were to develop a mass market for electronic health records faster than the U.S., which has put $19.2 billion in federal subsidies behind its effort.

But that may yet be the case.