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Meaningful Health Care Informatics Blog

Apr 17 2011   9:11PM GMT

HealthVault and its cloud services

Posted by: RedaChouffani
cloud computing, GoogleHealth, mhealth, Microsoft HealthVault, personal health records, PHR

When it comes to personal health records (PHRs), there are several options to choose from in today’s market. The goal of a well designed PHR is to provide a wide range of functionality and ease of use, while being truly interoperable, and with some of the big players competing on all of these elements for your health information, the race is most certainly on. I have been using both Google and Microsoft HealthVault for few years now, and they both continue to add functionality and new capabilities that are proving hard to ignore.

But what has recently got my attention is how Microsoft continues to aggressively invest in interoperability and connectivity functionality, free of charge, making it continually easier for patients to upload and track their health data. Some of this functionality comes from interfacing with common health devices such as blood pressure monitors, pedometers, glucometers and even digital Images.

Another item that Microsoft has on the menu is a combination of HealthVault and Windows Azure capabilities. These fall under the cloud-computing services category of solutions that Microsoft is currently offering, where there are several reasons why these make such powerful platforms:

· Software vendors are looking for cost effective ways to make health information available in the cloud, and Windows Azure provides out of the box cloud storage with database backend support…(SaaS all the way).

· Microsoft has ensured that if you are a solutions provider, you will have access to HealthVault services through the Windows Azure platform.

· Microsoft has a large number of partner participation. Their partners range from CVS, Aetna, Quest, and few other ones, which allow patients the ability to retrieve some of their data across the wire in order to develop a comprehensive record without a lot of manual work.

· One of the items that’s even more impressive comes with the support of native DICOM (digital imaging) as part of the HealthVault connectivity capability.

· For health care organizations that have adopted a custom made (electronic health record) EHR, Microsoft HealthVault with Windows Azure will provide a flexible platform to host their application or health data.

With respect to digital imaging, DICOM has been the predominant format for almost every system out there. This made it very simple for organizations to simply just start pushing or pulling images over the wire. When it comes to health records, however, there are some challenges. Since not all PHR providers can agree on one single standard, it remains a challenge for many to decide whether it is going to be CCD or CCR. Google Health, for example supports a subset of the CCR, while Microsoft HealthVault supports the entire standards set.

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