Microsoft has launched its personal health record platform in the UK on the Health and Lifestyle channel of the MSN network.
The HealthVault platform has been launched with gym and private healthcare operator Nuffield Health as its first partner, initially pitching the PHR concept at the health and well being market.
Members of the public can now sign up for a free secure HealthVault account. Setting up an account enables them to store personal health information, and connect readings from monitoring devices including blood pressure metres and scales.
A key feature of HealthVault is that users retain full control of their data, managing who they want to share specific data with.
The company says it plans to enable a wide range of partners and developers to use HealthVault to build new services and applications. Approved applications will be able to access data in HealthVault but not hold the data.
The first UK HealthVault ‘app’ to be launched is MyHealth Info which uses widgets developed by Nuffield Health.
John Coulthard, Microsoft’s senior director, healthcare and life sciences, told E-Health Insider that HealthVault was “the PayPal for health”.
The UK launch comes less than a week after a government-funded, independent evaluation found that the NHS’s personal health organiser, Health Space, has yet to deliver significant benefits.
The UCL study of the Summary Care Record and Health Space found little demand for the portal, and that only one in 1,000 of the patients invited to set up an ‘advanced account’ to access their SCR had done so.
However, Coulthard said people are used to using technology to control just about every aspect of their lives and that HealthVault begins to apply that same concept to healthcare.
He said that research showed that 13% of people in the UK are actively interested and engaged in looking after their ‘wellness’ but record data in different places.
“We don’t know what specific applications or widgets will be developed in the future – that’s the beauty of a model based on social innovation and an open platform – but just imagine the positive impact a citizen-centric ‘wellness’ infrastructure could have on our nation’s health,” he said.
Coulthard argued that if HealthVault can raise the number of people actively engaged in their health from 13% to 25% of the population this could translate into savings of £5 billion a year to the NHS. “That’s a huge potential saving, and the NHS doesn’t have to do anything,” he said.
Microsoft says that HealthVault will be offered free to members of the public with revenues generated through a combination of advertising and co-development fees charged to partners.
Microsoft first launched HealthVault in the US in 2007, and has focused on developing a diverse ecosystem of partners – ranging from hospital networks, pharmacies, medical device manufactures and health insurers – to build on the platform.