April 21, 2009
The Mayo Clinic and Microsoft are unveiling to consumers free online personal health records that provide customized health recommendations based on patients' medical conditions.
The new Mayo Clinic Health Manager is built on Microsoft's HealthVault Web-based personal health record platform, which Microsoft unveiled in 2007.
The release of Mayo Clinic Health Manager is considered Microsoft's big splash for mass-market consumers to begin tapping into HealthVault's tools for collecting and managing their personal health records online, said George Scriban, senior global strategist for Microsoft's consumer health platform.
Since HealthVault debuted about two years ago, nearly 100 third-party application developers, device makers, and health care providers have also forged HealthVault-related partnerships with Microsoft.
That includes a pilot involving the nation's largest health maintenance organization, Kaiser Permanente. That alliance, however, as well as other HealthVault partnerships with health care providers, is aimed at a specific group of consumers: the health care provider's own patients.
To date, only an unspecified number of Kaiser Permanente employees are participating in the test program to allow data to be shared between Kaiser Permanente's My Health Manager and HealthVault records.
Under the partnership between Mayo and Microsoft, however, a much broader audience of consumers is being aimed at, regardless of where they receive their health care. Users can create online Mayo Clinic Health Manager personal health records for themselves and family members using HealthVault as the platform to enter, collect, and manage their health information.
Mayo Clinic Health Manager includes a rules-based engine that triggers Mayo Clinic health recommendations and reminders to patients based on the information that's contained in their Mayo Clinic Health Manager record.
"We developed the clinical protocols and Microsoft wrote the rules software," said Nicole Spelhaug, the Mayo Clinic's senior director of consumer products. Nonprofit Mayo Clinic has been offering health information and content to consumers for years via a variety of media, including books, newsletters, and videos, as well as its MayoClinic.com site launched in 1995, she said. "Mayo Clinic Health Manager is another leap forward" in providing consumers access to Mayo's clinical expertise, even if they're not Mayo patients, said Spelhaug.
The customized content is directed to Mayo Clinic Health Manager users based on the health information users enter into their personal health records. For instance, patients who indicate in their Mayo Clinic Health Manager record that they're diabetic will be directed to health information and recommendations from the Mayo Clinic about managing their illness. The more details a patient provides about her health, the more specific the content can become.
"If a person enters just a little information, like gender, height, and weight, the rules trigger information for that person," said Scriban. The recommendations are based on clinical protocols. So, if a 40-year-old user indicates a family history of colon cancer, that person could receive Mayo recommendations about having a first colonoscopy earlier than age 50, which is the age when doctors generally suggest patients to have their first screening for that disease.
The records also allow users to upload data from medical devices, like glucose monitors and digital scales, and to store copies of their health records obtained from pharmacies, doctors, and other third-party health care providers.
Tools and features of Mayo Clinic Health Manager include reminders, recommendations, and health guidance about immunizations; pediatric and adult wellness; pregnancy; and chronic conditions like asthma. In coming months, tools will be added to help patients with type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol manage their health. There are also doctor-appointment preparation tools that can help users compile a list of question and concerns to address to their doctors, based on the information in their Mayo Clinical Health Manager record.
The combination of the HealthVault platform and Mayo Clinic's rules software and clinical expertise "delivers relevant information and health guidance personalized based on the information you enter and collect" into Mayo Clinic Health Manager, said Scriban.
The health records are secure and private, said Scriban. Mayo won't use the information provided by consumers for research, said Spelhaug. And while Mayo Clinic Health Manager won't feature ads for now, advertising is an option in the future, she said.
The partnership between Mayo and Microsoft isn't exclusive. While Mayo is free to collaborate with other providers of consumer-oriented e-health records such as Google, Spelhaug wouldn't comment on whether Mayo is in discussions for such alliances.
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