Views on Microsoft HealthVault and the future of “activity datastores”

Microsoft Healthvault

I wrote an article for the Sunday Tribune this Sunday that talked about Microsoft HealthVault where I said that were I a consultant in the HSE, I’d be worried. If medical records go fully electronic and you can upload all your records to a single site and throw in all your medical bits and bobs like prescriptions and the like and then allow any doctor or health provider to access this data then … screw you HSE.

Portable Health Records? Bye bye waiting lists

Why bother waiting 12 bloody months and paying 6 or 7 or 900 euros to see an Irish consultant when you could consult with someone with the same or better expertise? So what if she happens to be in another country? If any consultant can access your medical records and test results, should geography matter? I know when I met with some consulants previously, they chatted with me and that’s it. No examinations or anything. Their underlings do any physical interaction if any is needed all. For me it was some blood tests and that was it. 400 quid and a prescription for tablets. Very much like House MD where the guy doesn’t actually interact with patients if he can.

House MD just like a real consultant

Consultants will always be needed of course but when the greedy bastards are looking for so much, it might be nice to see them behave and charge less if a lot of their industry can be farmed out to other places in the world. Farm it out if it is better for the patient. Outsourcing can work two ways of course and this would mean that the consultants we have could specialise further and if done right, we could become the world leaders in certain areas of medicine and people can teleconnect to Ireland to get access to the best consultants just as we can connect to Sweden to get access to the world leaders in some area.

Microsoft HealthVault looks like a good solution and even the privacy wonks seem to be ok about it. You control who can upload data to your vault and you control who can access the data. The big issues so far surrounding this free service for patients is that it looks like you’ll need to use Microsoft Apps to access or amend the data if you are a healthcare professional, not too much of a worry. Though being Microsoft, they won’t be using open protocols to do this and I’m doubtful there’ll be an API for third party developers which allows much innovation. The other biggy is that the data goes in, but you can’t exactly export it all out and move it to another service like the Google Health service (does not yet exist but any year now it might be released) and other services from IBM et al. Of course, if we had both a proactive Health Service and Data Commissioner we could enact a law that says all stored data has to be able to be moved easily to another storage provider or you won’t be allowed to be a provider.

Making “interest” from our Health Data

The analogy I used in the article was the ability to easily move from bank to bank. If we can move our money from a money bank, why not move our health data to a health bank? I’m sure HealthVault and the clones will add more features over time to negotiate discounts on tablets and meds for you and everything else that uses the service, naturally with Microsoft getting a cut too. And just like a bank, we should be able to make money from what we store in it. Microsoft will make money from the data from charging access (by charging for the applications that access it) and also from those discounts for what you get, as well as ads when you do medical searches via the site. Why should Microsoft or whoever make all the money? It’s our data they are profiting from, share the wealth guys.

I don’t have high hopes of the Dept. of Health or the DPC pushing for free movement of data but perhaps commercial necessity will force the storage providers to do this if one of them offers to export your data out of their store in a standard format.

It’s not just Health Data though

If we have control of our health data, we should also be allowed to have control of all our financial data and even our surfing data and we should be allowed to leverage this to make money from it. Google stores a lot of data on us via all their scattered services, imagine if we could demand all that data from them and then move all the usage and search stats to Microsoft Live or Ask or Yahoo! or export all our Facebook profile and usage data to Google? A marketers dream. I’m not a fan of marketers and the marketing industry but were I a marketer I’d be lobbying my ass off at for it to be a basic right that people can have access to their “activity” data and be allowed to move it from one place to another. Free trade, free speech, free movement of the person and their activity data. I think this is where Attention Trust comes in. They want to do something like that. Allow you to control all your “attention” though I like calling it activity. So maybe eventually we’ll get money as we surf. I’ve already suggested that service providers will get a kickback from Google for offering something like free broadband,but perhaps eventually those kickbacks will travel up the chain to consumers.

This is what I said previously:

Take the last few points above, I can forsee the possibility of a potential deal with mobile operators to provide a free web connection (not data) in exchange for a revenue share with Google. Google could even offer to connect direct to the mobile networks and look after all the external bandwidth costs.

If we control our data, we control who markets to us and we control prices in a way too.

7 Responses to “Views on Microsoft HealthVault and the future of “activity datastores””

  1. Branedy says:

    From a security perspective, this should scare the hell out of everybody, not just because MicroSoft is involved. When the insurance company, through your consultant decides that you constitute a ‘risk’ to their bottom line, you may loose your coverage. Or a pharmaceutical could target you as a new market.

    Do you have an allergenic reaction to ‘peanuts’, want some peanuts Daimen?

  2. Damien B says:

    What does it say about me that Microsoft’s involvement in this, and their potential to get it all f**d up concerns me more than any civil liberty concerns?

  3. Sign me up!

    After the bullshit we’ve been through trying to get one of our kid’s x-rays out of CUH, anything is an improvement. They appear to think that they own our data.

    Not only that but we took the kid to a consultant who said he wanted to take an x-ray. We pointed out that it had already been taken but GP forgot to send it to him. Problem would have been solved instantly by HealthVault.

    My data on my terms, stored and accessed by who I chose. And not a single illiterate HSE staff member who can’t spell our kid’s name to be involved anywhere.

  4. Dermot Casey says:


    the problems

    House (one of my favourite programs) is fiction. Real doctors interact with real patients. The data is helpful but not enough on its own.

    Where does the data come from to get into the system, who collect the data, does the tests and give it to you to put into HealthVault?

    The health system is in a poor state due to lack of beds, dreadful management and lack of beds. There is less capacity in the system than 20 years ago for 700,000 more people. Its in huge need of reform and in no ones interest to see if collapse. An application from Microsoft (leaving aside the scary security and privacy issues) is not the solution


  5. It is interesting Conor when the desire to have something means you’ll accept almost any avenue. I tend to agree with you – i’d rather see *something* happen than nothing… at least that way the innovation kicks in. And let’s face it, most of the time it IS only the big players that big government organizations will deal with.

  6. […] was in a past blog post here where I said that if we controlled out activity data, we could actually make money from search […]

  7. […] It’s US only but I was able to get in. Terms and Conditions. I’ve written before about Microsoft’s HealthVault and I stand by it. These services are good and if the data they collect can get us better medical […]