Mayo to brand Microsoft health site

Why do I get a Martha Stewart bath towels at K-Mart feeling about this deal?

Martha StewartThe Mayo Clinic will lend its brand name to Microsoft's consumer health site.

This is not the only Mayo-technology tie-up you have seen here. There is ongoing work with IBM in medical imaging and in data-mining.

While the clinic is best-known as being in Minnesota, it is building a national footprint and now has operations in Florida and Arizona.

Technically Microsoft and Mayo call this:

A strategic agreement to collaboratively develop tools that will empower people to manage their health and become engaged partners with their providers in a new model of health care.

Why do I get a Martha Stewart bath towels at K-Mart feeling about this deal?

While the Mayo brand name may be less risky to link with than Stewart's, we're talking about a similar deal. Microsoft's consumer health initiative, which has been on the drawing boards for years, will go out with the Mayo Clinic brand.

Assuming this works out there is also something for hospitals to consider, namely the national branding power this gives the clinic. Might that make them attractive to an existing chain? Might they, like The Walt Disney Co., take over the board?

Then there is what this says about Microsoft, whose last similar deal was with NBC over a decade ago. Their brand isn't strong enough to go to market with?

Finally there is the consumer view. You don't trust Microsoft with your health information. Will you trust Microsoft if they have the Mayo Clinic name behind them? What if they used Martha Stewart's?