Patricia Flatley Brennan, Ph.D., R.N., Project HealthDesign National Program Director
In June, as soon as Google mentioned its plan to discontinue the Google Health personal health record (PHR) platform, speculators began wondering whether Microsoft HealthVault would eventually follow suit. And once Microsoft and GE announced plans to spin their health groups into a new joint venture, the questions began to flow even more freely:
“It remains to be seen whether HealthVault will follow the Google Health PHR into oblivion.”
- “Microsoft GE Healthcare Joint Venture – A Sign of Weakness or Strength?,” The Health Care Blog
“… Microsoft did state that they’ll hang onto HealthVault, but even here, that is more likely a by-product of no one wanting to take on HealthVault rather than Microsoft’s strong desire to continue to try and build a viable, revenue-generating entity out of it. Do not be too surprised if, in a year’s time, HealthVault falls to the wayside much like Google Health did this year.”
- “Microsoft Bows Out of the Clinical Market,” Chilmark Research
In response, the HealthVault team met the questions head-on by holding their first “State of the Union” webinar on Jan. 13. The webinar, which was open to the public, focused on the HealthVault team’s vision for 2012, including plans for establishing a critical mass of users. Sean Nolan, chief architect of Microsoft’s Health Solutions Group, emphasized the team’s desire to see “people worldwide using online health tools to change health care.”
Several of our current Project HealthDesign teams are using HealthVault as a data repository and platform for participants to access their observations of daily living (ODLs) and other patient-generated data. That’s why we were interested to see where the HealthVault team would be focusing in the immediate future. Our teams have benefited from building on top of existing personal health platforms like HealthVault and TheCarrot.com. And although we don’t see these platforms as ends unto themselves, but rather as important components of a health data ecosystem (one that includes sensors and apps to record patient-generated data, personal health platforms to store and manage the data, dashboards and apps to review the data, and clinical EHR systems to bring data from patients’ daily lives into the clinical environment), there remains a critical and important role for platforms that accept and expose data from many sources.
We want to encourage everyone who’s working to advance this suite of health information tools, including HealthVault and TheCarrot.com, to hang in there. We know you’re ready to see more widespread interest and higher rates of consumer adoption. Frankly, we think the time for personal health platforms and a whole range of additional personal health tools is coming. We can’t wait to see consumers take charge of their health outside of clinical visits by diving into the health data ecosystem and putting the great tools you’re developing to work. Onward!