Microsoft HealthVault launches in UK

Microsoft has launched HealthVault, its cloud-based health platform, in the UK.

The free service, which was introduced in the US three years ago, lets users store their personal health information. In addition it provides a platform for applications that use the data to help individuals monitor various aspects of their health.

Users can allow other applications to access to the data within HealthVault, but those applications cannot copy or store it. Users can also audit the system at any time to see who has accessed their details.

Microsoft says it has worked with Nuffield Health on applications for HealthVault, and aims to work with organisations such as the British Heart Foundation and the British Diabetic Association on further tools aimed to promoting healthy living.

Microsoft aims to generate revenues through advertising, and through co-development fees charged to partners.

Microsoft says there are no plans to share information with the NHS at this stage, but argues that HealthVault will nonetheless be of great benefit to the public healthcare system.

"Evidence shows that those people actively engaged in their wellness use only two-thirds of the NHS resources of those who don't look after themselves," Microsoft UK's senior director healthcare and life sciences John Coulthard wrote. "If Microsoft HealthVault and our partners can help raise that 13 per of people engaged in their wellness to, say, 25 per cent, we believe that could save the NHS up to 5 billion a year."

Developers have been provided with a HealthVault software development kit (SDK) built on the .Net platform, while those using open source or other platforms can access a set of custom APIs available on CodePlex, Microsoft's open-source repository, which support PHP and Python among others.

HealthVault is available now in the Health & Lifestyle section of the MSN Network.