- The Washington Times - Thursday, October 4, 2007

Microsoft Corp. today introduced a Web site designed to enable people to manage and keep track of personal medical information while guaranteeing consumers’ privacy.

Microsoft’s HealthVault is a free site connected to a health-information search engine the company premiered last month. Users have access to a repository of health-related information and their medical histories, such as immunizations and records from doctor and hospital visits.

“Our focus is simple: to empower people to lead healthy lives,” said Peter Neupert, corporate vice president of the Health Solutions Group at Microsoft.

The site targets both consumers and health care organizations, such as hospitals and insurance companies, some of which have been slow adopters of new health-information technology such as HealthVault. The goal of the Web site is to connect the entire health care system over the Internet.

“We can connect all the providers,” Mr. Neupert said.

Meanwhile, outside organizations including the American Diabetes Association and the American Heart Association will provide applications that consumers will be able to access on the HealthVault platform. Johnson & Johnson, for example, has created a blood-glucose-monitoring application that people can access on the Web site, Microsoft said.

Microsoft has company in its foray into health-information technology. Last year, large employers formed a nonprofit consortium to provide personal health records for their employees, dependents and retirees. The founding companies are Wal-Mart Stores Inc., Intel Corp., Pitney Bowes, Applied Materials Inc., Cardinal Health Inc. and BP America Inc. They were joined recently by AT&T; and Sanofi-Aventis.

Privacy issues often are raised where health-information technology is concerned. Microsoft made a point to address that issue with HealthVault.

“Its contractual obligations with advertisers require protection of any data transferred from the platform. Its privacy policy is simple and easy to understand,” said Dr. Deborah Peel, founder of the Patient Privacy Rights Foundation. “That means consumers finally have a trusted place to store their personal health information that will not be data-mined because they alone control it.”

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