Microsoft has signed a partnership with Canadian telecoms firm Telus, which will become the first firm outside the US to offer Microsoft’s HealthVault personal health platform.

Telus, a Toronto-based telecomms firm, is licensing HealthVault to provide the platform for a personal health record service called Telus Health Space.

Dr Ann Cavoukian, information and privacy commissioner of Ontario, described the development as providing the first consumer e-health platform in the country.

Launched in late 2007, HealthVault is Microsoft’s online platform for personal health-care information and records. Some 60 organisations are working with Microsoft on the platform in the US, covering health care providers, health plans, medical devices and pharmacies.

HealthVault is already being used by the Mayo Clinic, which is offering it as the Mayo Clinic Health Manager service. Other prominent US healthcare organisations, including Kaiser Permanente and New York Presbyterian Hospital, are testing services built using HealthVault.

The new Canadian service will enable people to manage and store their personal health information online and have access in one place to applications to manage personal health records. The platform is said to also offer tools to help them with chronic disease management, pediatric care and wellness products.

Telus says it will make its Health Space service available to governments, health regions, hospitals, insurers and employers who want to offer personal health records services. Microsoft is working with Telus to find developers, application providers and device manufacturers to create software and devices compatible with Health Space.

“What was once thought impossible is now a reality. Canadians have been demanding the ability to manage their health electronically and soon they will be able to do it with a life-long record provided by Telus,” said Francois Cote, president of Telus Health Solutions.

Phil Sorgen, president of Microsoft Canada, said in a statement: “This marks the first international deployment of Microsoft HealthVault, which accelerates the move toward an online, patient-centric healthcare system, and which will improve the health and wellness of our country’s citizens.”

Dr Ann Cavoukian, information and privacy commissioner of Ontario, said she applauded the development: “I urge these providers to actively pass on the benefits of these services to individual patients. As the health care system transitions from paper-based records to electronic health records, it is essential for patients to become an active part of this process.”

She added: “The services envisioned in Canada’s first consumer e-health platform will give patients the tools to manage their own health care through electronic access to comprehensive, patient-centred health information. Let the new era of accessibility begin."