I have written and spoken about Microsoft’s Healthvault service a number of times in the past few years. For those who haven’t heard of it, Healthvault is a personal health and medical information repository that is controlled by each individual, not a healthcare provider organization such as a hospital. Individuals specify who can access their Healthvault and can use it to quickly and easily share personal health information with whomever they choose.
One of the most significant decisions made by Microsoft in Healthvault’s design is that it is Perhaps the most significant reason is that it is a service, not an application. Rather than build their own health and wellness applications, Microsoft is encouraging others to do so. The result will be a rich and diverse collection of health and wellness applications all using Healthvault to store personal health information.
A recently announced example of how Healthvault can be used is the new the Hawaii Medical Services Association (HMSA), an independent licensee of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Assoction which provides health insurance to more than half of Hawaii’s residents. This service connects individuals seeking medical care with participating physicians either by phone or online using Web-based videoconferencing or secure chat. The service is highly interactive, with individuals able to have a real-time conversation with a physician and uses Microsoft’s Healthvault as one mechanism for sharing health and medical information with the physician.
According to HMSA, “Online consultations are not meant to replace in-person doctor visits; they simply provide another health care choice for talking to a doctor about a non-urgent condition or getting advice or answers.” In addition to providing advice about non-urgent conditions, physicians can also refill prescriptions, discuss medication discussions, or explain generic drugs.
What do you think of the Online Care service? It is a model that could work in Canada? Do you think that online delivery of specific healthcare services is a viable model? What about Microsof’t Healthvault? Will people be prepared to store their information on-line using applications such as Online Care?