healthvault logo The Dr. is in! Dr. Microsoft that is.  Today Microsoft launched a new service into beta called HealthVault. As the name suggests, it’s a site designed to help you manage your health with three main services that allow you to collect, store, and share your health information. – HealhVault Search, HealthVault Account, and the HealthVault Connection Center. The site is free to use, and Microsoft is hoping that the step they just took into the Health Industry will influence doctors and hospitals into keeping electronic medical records. They’re also hoping that the software development kit they’ve made available will get insurance companies, doctors, and hospital offices to create web applications that will benefit their patients.

Before we get in to what HealtVault is all about, from the sounds of it, Microsoft has beaten Google to the punch. Back in August, screenshots emerged of Google Health – Googles own health service that has yet to be released. Some of the features it is expected to have sound very similar to what Microsoft is offering here. Microsoft must be feeling pretty good right about now because now Google will be playing catch-up…

HealthVault Search

The HealthVault Search is not your typical web search. When you enter a search query (note: search results page doesn’t appear quite right in Opera), you’ll get options for refining your search, Article Results (e.g., Wikipedia), Web Results, a Sponsored Result, and books from Amazon regarding the topic you searched for.

healthvault search

HealthVault Account

This too is a free service where you can collect, store, and share health information with Web sites and doctors.  You must have a HealthVault Account to use this service which requires a Windows Live ID. You control who sees what, and what goes in.  Examples of what you’d store in your HealthVault Account include:

  • Perscription information and medication history
  • X-Rays, MRIs, CAT scan results, etc.

You’re free to upload health documents, or have your health records faxed directly into your HealthVault account.

HealthVault Connection Center

The HealthVault Connection Center will be great for those who monitor their blood pressure, or blood glucose levels.  Certain devices like blood glucose monitors, blood pressure monitors, sport watches, and others can be connected to your computer via USB, infrared, or wirelessly.  Once you download the HealthVault Connection software, the data from your device will be uploaded and stored on your HealthVault record. If you plan on using the software, you must be running a genuine copy of Windows, otherwise it won’t work.

When it comes to Health, people want to make sure that their information is private and secure.  Microsoft makes it a point to clearly display their Health Privacy Commitment on the website because trust is definitely an issue here. Users have to feel that they can trust Microsoft with their health information if this is going to be successful.

As Long Zheng over at the I Started Something blog said, “If you can get your head around the fact this is provided by the same company who makes a computer operating system and game console” then HealthVault will probably be useful for you.