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Opening the Vault

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Just a little something on yesterday's big news. Yesterday morning, Microsoft announced its new set of tools designed to help people manage their personal health information.

Called HealthVault, the consumer tools include a personal health record and an internet search for health queries. The personal information will be stored in a secure, encrypted database, which Microsoft can only be accessed by the individual who creates the personal health file. They can then determine what else goes into this file -- and who gets to see it.

Security and privacy are crucial for these kinds of tools to work -- hence the use of "Vault" in the name. Some folks, Amy over at Diabetes Mine for one, raised some interesting questions about the willingness of people to provide their personal information in this way.

Microsoft is also going to allow users to upload data from devices such as glucose meters and blood pressure monitors. According to the WSJ Health Blog:

That could be the real place where HealthVault succeeds or fails: Microsoft hopes docs, hospitals and device makers, among others, will write software to work with HealthVault and turn it into the Office software suite of the health world.

Enabling people to control their own health information and to add tools to their account based on their own needs all sounds very intriguing. As I said in an earlier post on Health2.0, for these kinds of tools to really take off, they will have to provide patients, caregivers or any individual with a way to take charge of their own health care needs. This seems to be another step towards that.

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