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Microsoft launches MSN health application

Keeping MSN relevant and saving the NHS money, maybe

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Microsoft has announced the availability of its brand new "health and wellness" HealthVault cloud platform in the UK.

HealthVault is an MSN-hosted store for users to enter their data directly and to use applications or widgets developed by charity Nuffield Health.

The announcement is full of well-meaning yadda yadda like putting "HealthVault put[s] users in charge of their own health data" and "the security features built into HealthVault mean that users can take control over who can access and use their data".

UK users are in control of their own health data now, apart from their NHS records, and there's no way to get those into HealthVault, so Microsoft isn't offering anything new in that department.

HealthVault is a way for Microsoft to get its claws into consumers and have them use MSN as a place to store health records. But there isn't much of that available outside the NHS and private medical services, so it's presented as a way for consumers with families to record, monitor and manage the family members' health, while MSN serves them ads.

Microsoft is saying that people using HealthVault could become healthier and so use NHS facilities less. It says that on HealthVault "information can be entered manually by an individual for themselves or their family - or automatically from a range of compatible devices including weight scales, blood pressure monitors and pedometers". A & D Medical's weighing machine and blood pressure monitors are the two that seem compatible.

Microsoft quotes research showing 13 per cent of the UK population are actively interested and engaged in looking after their "wellness" - exercising regularly, looking after their diet, monitoring their weight and taking their temperature and blood pressure. Such people use just two thirds of the NHS resources consumed by those who don't look after themselves.

Microsoft's John Coulthard, Senior Director of Healthcare and Life Sciences at Microsoft UK, thinks HealthVault "offers huge opportunities for organisations in the healthcare ecosystem to build applications and services that help people engage in their health and wellness". He also said if that 13 per cent of people who manage their health could be raised to 25 per cent then the NHS could save £5bn.

So Microsoft wants to nanny us to health and budget wellness with HealthVault, which might be no bad thing, but you do get a creeping sensation it's more about keeping MSN relevant than saving the NHS money. ®

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