Personal health records
Siemens to develop Microsoft
HealthVault in Germany
Healthcare equipment giant Siemens
has signed an agreement to licence Microsoft’s personal health record
platform, HealthVault, for use in Germany.
Siemens will host all the stored health data in what the two companies
describe as “security enhanced” data centres in Germany. Data will be
transmitted using an encrypted connection over the Internet.
Microsoft launched HealthVault in the United States in October 2007. It
has promoted HealthVault as an online platform that will allow
individuals to store their personal health data, import information from
various medical devices, and decide who to share it with.
A number of American healthcare organizations are working with the
platform, including New York’s Presbyterian Hospital, which has linked
it to Microsoft’s Amalga unified intelligence system.
Microsoft has also done a deal with Telus to take the platform to Canada
as Telus Health Space. But the Siemens deal is the first of its kind in
continental Europe and the UK.
Despite this, HealthVault hit the headlines in England last year when a
row broke out over commercial companies ‘taking over’ personal health
The row was triggered by the opposition Conservative Party indicating
that it might go down this route if it takes power at the forthcoming
general election. The party has since committed to giving every English
citizen an online health record, without saying whether it will look to
Microsoft, Google Health, other companies or the NHS’ own HealthSpace
product to achieve this.
In a statement, Microsoft and Siemens said their vision was to “enable
German citizens to connect to various systems run by physicians,
hospitals, pharmacies and even fitness facilities for a comprehensive
view of their personal health information.”
As a result of the deal, Siemens will be the exclusive operator of
HealthVault in Germany and will market the platform to developers,
application providers and device manufacturers, who will be encouraged
to join the service and provide individuals with tools that they can use
Microsoft has a long association with Siemens. The two companies first
formed a healthcare development alliance in 1995, and later signed a
strategic alliance to optimize Siemens’ health information applications
on the Microsoft .NET enterprise technology platform.
“With the deployment of the HealthVault technology, Siemens contributes
to the supply of affordable and personalized healthcare,” said Frank
Hauber, of Siemens IT Solutions and Services Germany.
“At the same time, Siemens IT Solutions and Services completes its
e-health portfolio and expands the existing good relationship with
Microsoft in the healthcare market.”
The German government has been pursuing the development of a national
e-health smart card that was intended to provide every German citizen
with a card carrying personal data, medical history and insurance
The project was supposed to have been completed by 2006, but has run
into a number of problems, including opposition from medical groups, and
is in use in just a handful of states.
According to the British Medical Journal, the German smart card project
has been put on hold pending a review of security and confidentiality.
Smart cards are still being issued in trial areas, focusing on basic
patient data and insurance details.
Published February 11,2010