Goliath moves into healthcare records

BMJ 2007; 335 doi: (Published 13 December 2007) Cite this as: BMJ 2007;335:1233
  1. Michael Cross
  1. 1London

    Does Microsoft’s decision to launch a health records service for patients and doctors in the United States have any implications for patients in the UK? Michael Cross reports

    Microsoft, the world’s largest computer software firm, has catapulted electronic health data into the commercial sphere by launching an online health records service, aimed at both doctors and patients.

    The firm says that HealthVault will allow patients, clinicians, and institutions to share health data electronically. Although now offered only in the US, and apparently designed with that country’s healthcare system in mind, HealthVault has implications for schemes in the UK to create shared electronic health records. Patients in the NHS in England can already compile their own health diaries on an NHS website called HealthSpace, which will ultimately be linked to the electronic health record that is being created by the NHS national programme.

    The NHS shared electronic record is running several years behind schedule, however, and remains controversial among clinicians. If and when the Microsoft service is made available to British residents and sufficiently heavily marketed, it could prove a challenge to the NHS system.

    HealthVault, announced on 4 October, consists of two distinct products: an electronic repository for health data and a specialised search engine for health information on the world wide web. Both will be free …

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