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Making HealthVault Personal

by John Moore | April 21, 2009

mayo-clinicMany of struggled with the HealthVault interface. Since launching HealthVault, Microsoft has maintained that HealthVault is not a PHR, but a data store in which a consumer may load many health data types including claims data (Aetna and United Health Group), clinical data (NY Presbyterian and MedStar or anyone else that can provide a CCD or CCR file format) to medication data (CVS), lab data (Labs of America and webLab) and a consumer’s own biometric data via the Connection Center.  But it is the various apps that reside above the data store that tap this data and present it in some useful way to the consumer to make it actionable.  While simple in theory, this can at times be difficult, confusing and simply a pain.

Today, another app is now available on HealthVault that holds promise to dramatically improve the HealthVault experience, Mayo Clinic’s Health Manager.  While at HIMSS, Microsoft gave me a preview of the new Mayo Health Manager and last week I had the opportunity to speak directly to the Mayo Clinic’s Dr. Phil Hagen about Health Manager.

In a Nutshell:

Mayo Health Manager is result of long collaboration with Microsoft that began in November 2007 and developers started coding in Spring 2008.

Mayo Health Manager is a PHR, a basic one, but PHR just the same.

Primary design objective was to deliver something that was useful, “out of the box” with a minimal amount of user input.

Elegant, clean interface & workflow with suggestions, warnings and alerts automatically provided via an expert system that matches health profile to common best practices.

Personalization and actionable information leverages embedded Mayo Clinic content.

Launch is for “Phase One” which in addition to tapping common data elements (e.g., health history, family history, meds, allergies, etc.) will have deeper functionality for asthma and pregnancy.  Other  Phases forthcoming. Phase Two will include hypertension and diabetes functionality.

Health Manager designed as a flexible platform that can support other complimentary apps within its environment.

Currently, Health Manager does not support biometric data uploads via Connection Center, but this capability is expected in near future, maybe Phase 2. Currently they are working to get peak-flow data in as part of asthma module.

Health Manager is available for free on the Mayo Clinic website.


Mayo’s Dr. Hagen, who is vice chair of Preventative and Occupational Medicine provided me some background on what motivated Mayo down this path in the first place.

Mayo Clinic has three primary operational objectives: Patient Care, Education and Research. In creating Health Manager, Mayo is seeking to primarily address Education though there is a Research component for them as they wish to understand if such a service does indeed work – will a consumer use it, will it guide healthier decisions?  While supporting education and research are primary goals, Mayo is sure to get some “branding capital” out of this as well.

In looking at the rapidly changing healthcare market, Dr. Hagen stated that Mayo saw a significant gap between the healthcare system and the average consumer.  Consumers may be doing online searches for health information but first: how reliable is it, does it come from a trusted source and secondly, is there an easier way to retrieve such information that is personalized to a consumer’s specific needs and profile?  Health Manager seeks to address both of these issues head-on.

Implications for the Future:

Health Manager will become a competing platform to many for-profit PHR companies.  In addition to it being a nicely architected solution, Health Manager also carries the Mayo brand, which the average consumer may put more faith and trust into when initially choosing a PHR for their HealthVault account.  Foresee a squeeze play on weaker PHR vendors currently on HealthVault.  Health Manager may also limit the number of future PHR vendors that build on top of HealthVault.

Trusted, personalized content, automatically delivered with little if any consumer intervention, is increasingly being sought by consumers to simplify their health information needs.  For example, the MS employee that gave me the demo (he used his personal HealthVault/Health Manager account) has arthritis and is prescribed Enbrel.  Since Enbrel is known to suppress one’s autoimmune system, Health Manager automatically provides a warning for him to be cautious if having any immunization shot(s) that have a live virus.  Pretty slick.  Solutions that can deliver such capabilities painlessly will become the norm within 3 years.

Mayo licenses its content to numerous websites, including employers for their internal employee health portals.  With the recent announcement by NY Presbyterian of  MyNYP.org, it is clear that Microsoft is looking at the provider market to monetize HealthVault and will compete with the likes of Epic and its My Chart.  Now, one can easily envision Microsoft joining with Mayo in a co-marketing effort to deliver a solution that goes beyond Mayo’s current EmbodyHealth offering for employers, which has never had the capability to allow a consumer/employee to manage their health data.  EmbodyHealth combined with HealthVault create a more complete and compelling solution.

The Wrap:

A lot of promise but based on what we have seen in this market to date (plenty of hype, little supporting evidence of rapid adoption) it remains to be seen just how successful Mayo’s Health Manager will be.  It has some good things going for it including:

Trusted Brand, Elegant App, Great Content

At the end of the day, is this enough?  Dr. Haggen spoke of a healthcare system that needs better bridges to support consumers in their healthcare decisions.  Certainly Mayo is striving to build such bridges as evidenced by Health Manager but as pointed out in the previous post, the human component is missing and at this juncture in the evolution of the PHR market, this human component may indeed be the secret sauce for broad, wide-spread adoption and use of PHRs. Until we get that problem solved, all these great apps will languish in a market that currently sees little value in their use.

3 responses to “Making HealthVault Personal”

  1. […] While simple in theory, this can at times be difficult, confusing and simply a pain.” Article John, EMR (EHR) and HIPAA, 21 April […]

  2. Thanks for the post, John. We’re obviously pretty excited about MCHM.

    One thing caught my eye in your post: as a HealthVault app, MCHM actually does support device data. You can track weight, blood pressure, blood glucose, peak flow, and aerobic session information that comes from HealthVault-compatible devices, and is uploaded via HealthVault Connection Center. In fact, any HealthVault-compatible application can leverage the platform’s device connectivity.

    It is true, though, that MCHM currently only provides care guidance for asthma.


  3. […] Mayo Clinic’s announcement of Health Manager for HealthVault is a combination of EmbodyHealth (a Mayo health content services solution sold to institutions and employers) with HealthVault repository that may prove attractive in the employer market competing wihthe likes of WebMD. […]

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