Microsoft is looking to change that. They have tasked senior researcher Desney Tan with finding ways to integrate their existing product line -- including phones and game machines -- with health data.
The XBox, for instance, is a computer, and costs less than a PC. The main XBox site advertises systems starting at $199.
Why not put it in hospital rooms and connect it to the hospital's electronic medical record system? That way a doctor could show a patient his scans at their bedside, and the hospital could create entertaining follow-up programs. Young patients would also have something to do.
The company is also working hard to match the Nintendo Wii with a gesture interface dubbed Project Natal. Placing the XBox in hospitals as well as homes would allow those undergoing rehabilitation the chance to do the needed work at home, creating valuable new applications and application markets.
Or a mobile phone could be used to collect data points like blood pressure, blood sugar, exercise statistics and food diaries, which could help patients stay on track and create a data stream for doctors.
The user interface could be as simple as a camera for taking pictures of meals before they are eaten and an accelerometer to measure the distance a patient is traveling on foot.
Best of all, the company figures, both the hospital and personal data could be integrated through its HealthVault Personal Health Record, giving people a 360 degree view of their condition. This might reduce the cost of treating chronic conditions like hypertension, obesity and diabetes, which represent nearly half the nation's health bill.
For Microsoft, of course, such integration also makes the company's full line of products and services important to customers, and extends consumer products into business markets.