Microsoft and Its Competitors Still In Search of Mainstream User Base for Personal Health Records
Microsoft hasn’t yet attracted the millions of patients it would like to its personal health data service, HealthVault, says Peter Neupert, corporate vice president of the company’s Health Solutions Group. Though HealthVault and other products like Google Health that enable patients to store their health information online are free and available to anyone with Internet access, there appear to be many hurdles to clear before the use of such products becomes mainstream.
Neupert, along with his counterparts from Google Health and WebMD, was in Boston last Thursday to discuss personal health data platforms at the annual Connected Health Symposium, which was hosted by Boston-based Partners HealthCare’s Center for Connected Health. Despite the slow adoption rates of personal electronic health records indicated by Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT) and Google (NASDAQ:GOOG), the companies may find themselves on the right side of history if the masses decide to own and manage personal health data online. Indeed, there has been lots of talk in Washington, DC, and elsewhere about moving healthcare toward a more patient-focused model, and one of the likely requirements for doctors in the U.S. to qualify for nearly $20 billion in federal incentives for adopting electronic medical records systems is to give patients access to personal health information.
But there are some big barriers in the way of patients adopting personal health records such as HealthVault and Google Health. Phil Marshal, a vice president of WebMD (NASDAQ:WBMD), said that he and his competitors have to make patients trust the provider of the record service, communicate well to patients, and ensure that the person finds value in the service. “I don’t think we’re there yet,” he said. And he noted that WebMD has been in the personal health information business since 1999. (Personal health records, of course, are among many online health resources that WebMD provides.) Another hurdle is that a patient typically can’t easily connect her personal health record to the health data kept in her doctors’ office, in part because many of their doctors aren’t connected to health information networks that enable them to transfer information.
“The steps needed to get millions and millions of users [of personal health records] are first to get providers connected,” Neupert said.
The technology certainly exists to integrate personal health records with providers, pharmacies, health insurers, and other stakeholders in healthcare. Microsoft’s Amalga technology stack, for example, includes tools that enable hospitals and public health agencies to share health data over a network, and I’m told that at least one regional health information network that uses Amalga is considering a project to … Next Page »