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HealthVault Continues to Build, & Google Health Still Useful

by John Moore | June 03, 2011

This week, Microsoft’s HealthVault added a number of new enhancements to its platform including support for mobile access (only Windows 7 today, but they plan to launch support for Android and Apple’s iOS within the next few weeks). Wonder how it will look on the iPad? HealthVault will now auto-reconcile CCR and CCD data feeds from one’s physician or hospital. According to HealthVault’s Chief Architect, Sean Nolan, the previous process by which a HealthVault user’s records were place in a waiting area until the user manually initiated the reconciliation was creating some issues with keeping a HealthVault current with the latest test results, med lists etc. And lastly, one can now log-in to HealthVault using their Facebook account credentials. No, your HealthVault account is not compromised wherein all your friends on Facebook now know all the intimate details of your health. The log-in let’s you avoid the cumbersome Microsoft Live sign-in process and having just tried it out, it works like a charm.

Must admit to not having visited HealthVault in some time. The user interface is so much clearer, cleaner and simply refreshing than the past graphical user interfaces (GUIs) of HealthVault. Simple blue and black elements on a white background. Doesn’t get much simpler or easy on the eyes than that. One could even argue it is now ahead of Google Health in the GUI wars, but let’s not give up on Google just yet, you’ll see why shortly.  But still waiting for HealthVault to at last let there be user reviews of the multitude of partners they now have on the site (counted 16 different PHR solutions). Chilmark Research has been following this market for several years now and are familiar with most of those partners but for someone who does not have such knowledge, where in the h*ll do they begin? Still an issue and a growing one at that. Time for the HealthVault crew to get on this issue immediately and deploy something similar to the ratings feature on Apple’s App Store, it’s long overdue.

A few weeks back we wrote of Google Health going into a cryogenic state, not dead mind you, just don’t expect any new features anytime soon. But one of the nicer features in Google Health is the ability to enter, track and trend just about anything you want. A few weeks back we were fiddling around with one of the more popular patient aggregation and sharing sites and became frustrated with the lack of flexibility to create trending charts that are of interest to us to share within a community. And this was a site that just went through a major overhaul to allow for the creation of more disease communities. Puzzling and we went to look elsewhere.

Remembering our demo of the “new” Google Health nearly a year ago we went to create our own trending charts. These were extremely easy to set-up. Now if only Google could figure out a way to enable users of this platform to initiate and create a disease community similar to PatientsLikeMe we’d be in business. Opps, that’s right, Google Health is frozen in time.

So when we were cruising around HealthVault, we thought we would try the same exercise. No problem entering lab data but for the life of us we could not create charts of that data to view trends. Now this could be just user error on our part and we simply failed to find the function that would chart entered lab data as HealthVault does support charting for other parameters (e.g., weight, blood pressure, etc.). Or it may be that HealthVault is expecting you to turn to one of their many partners to provide such functionality. But that takes us all the way back to who of the multitude of partners does one choose from? If you click labs, you’ll get 23 options. Argh.

In all fairness, Microsoft and the HealthVault team really have made tremendous headway and advances to the platform since its inaugural (and painful) launch some 3.5 years ago. But they still have a ways to go to get to the point where it truly becomes a very easy, simple platform to engage (and by engage we also mean the process of selecting and engaging one or more of the many partners that sit on top of the HealthVault platform). We look forward to the next series of announcements from Sean and his team.

6 responses to “HealthVault Continues to Build, & Google Health Still Useful”

  1. […] John Moore at Chilmark Research has published another of his characteristically useful and insightful updates on health IT as he sees it. It’s here. […]

  2. […] Article John Moore, Chilmark Research, 3 June 2011 […]

  3. Jonathan says:

    The Facebook link isn’t quite so clear. I tried to log in using FB, which created an account. When I then tried to link it to my existing account it told me I couldn’t do that. I think the idea is that I have to delete the FB-based account I just created, log in using Windows Live, then add my FB log in to the old account. More guidance from HV would have been helpful.

  4. The Facebook log in link worked fine for me. I must say the new Microsoft Health Vault enhancements are very impressive, but I agree it would be nice to see user ratings of PHRs and other tools offered in the Health Vault. You’re right John, Apple’s App Store feature rating is a good example.

    If Microsoft did deploy this feature rating, then the favorite patient-centric PHRs would rise to the top. I think it would give RememberItNow! the opportunity to flourish. Not to toot our own horn, but PC Mag said RememberItNow’s eHealth platform was “Much sleeker and easier to use than Microsoft HealthVault and Google Health.”

    All in all, the launch of the new Microsoft Health Vault enhancements are a step in the right direction towards centralized health care information. We should all be excited to participate in this revolution toward patient empowerment.

    Cheers,

    Alex Bettencourt

    ABettencourt@MobilePRM
    http://www.MobilePRM.com

    • John Moore says:

      Alex,
      Thank you for your comment. Note that we have taken he liberty to edit your comment slightly as some of it was blatant advertising, which is abhorred here at Chilmark on our site.

      We love comments, we love insights but promotional comments will be edited or even axed altogether if they do not add to the conversation.

      Trust you understand and will honor this policy in the future.

  5. danmunro says:

    Great post – but all of this is still *really* difficult and overly-complex for millions of average users. Point being – if you’re nerdy, geeky and work in tech – all of these steps and processes may make sense – but there are still millions of people that don’t want a WindowsLive ID (myself included) – and where the value proposition of starting and then maintaining a longitudinal health record has limited initial value (or appeal). It wasn’t that long ago that Revolution Health completely abandoned their effort (Jan 2010) – you acknowledge that Google is at least halting their effort – so Microsoft is our lone option? Ouch!

    Mark Goldenson (CEO of Breakthrough.com) wrote a great post on this last year – and it’s a great read to remind us that even in Apple/Mac world (the pinnacle of easy-to-use) simple processes aren’t always that simple. His post – “Our poor Mom’s – How Technology is Still Too Damn Hard” – is here: http://bit.ly/lMxZgI

    We’ve come a long way for sure – but IMHO – there is still a long, long way to go. In the spirit of Extormity at HIMSS I just bought http://www.HealthcareUXSucks.com. See you in Vegas!

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