Microsoft says HealthVault still going strong

Microsoft said it's committed to the service, after Google said it would shut down a similar offering

Microsoft said it remains committed to HealthVault, its service that lets users store all their medical information in one place, despite Google's announcement last week that it would shut down a similar service because it wasn't popular enough.

"What does this mean for HealthVault? The 'buzz' online ranges wildly, but the real and simple answer is: nothing," Sean Nolan, chief architect for Microsoft's Health Solutions Group, wrote in a blog post Sunday.

He pointed to some advancements to show Microsoft's commitment to the service. It recently made HealthVault accessible from mobile phones and released a software development kit for third parties to develop mobile applications for the service.

It also started to let users add medical images such as X-rays and scans to their files, and it now lets veterans upload data from government health systems.

But some observers wondered if Microsoft will continue that pace of innovation after losing a big competitor. Microsoft may no longer feel the need to invest so much in HealthVault and could decide to reassign engineers to other projects, John Moore, an analyst at Chilmark Research, wrote in a blog post. "It's not like HealthVault has been a screaming success in the market," he wrote.

Microsoft didn't respond to a question Monday afternoon about how many active users HealthVault has.

Still, the closure of Google Health could give Microsoft a boost. In a rare show of solidarity, Nolan thanked Google for drawing attention to the benefits of such services and said the two companies have been working together to make it easier for Google Health customers to transfer their data to HealthVault.

In about a week, Google is expected to offer a way for customers to transfer their data directly to HealthVault, Nolan said. At the moment they have to download the data to a computer first and then upload it.

Microsoft also reached out to developers building applications for Google Health. "If your application integrates with Google by sending and retrieving CCR documents, you'll find that converting it to work with HealthVault should be pretty painless," Nolan wrote. Microsoft and Google use the Continuity of Care Record standard for data storage, making it easier for customers to move their data between services.

Nancy Gohring covers mobile phones and cloud computing for The IDG News Service. Follow Nancy on Twitter at @idgnancy. Nancy's e-mail address is Nancy_Gohring@idg.com

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