Personal Health Record (PHR) can be shortly defined as person’s complete medical history. Under the current system the use of PHR proves to be inefficient. Only 20% of the US patient population has digital medical records scattered to more than 200 personal health systems most of them having a closed access. One reason for which this data can’t be in one place is the federal regulation (HIPAA), which governs the privacy of personal information and how it can be shared. As a direct consequence, researchers don’t have access to these records.
Recently, the Internet giants Microsoft and Google entered the eHealth business. Microsoft’s HealthVault was launched in October 2008 (still in beta version) and at this moment the system is available only for US users using a Live ID login. Microsoft has already partnered with a list of companies that make products of offer services compatible with HealthVault. The company plans to make money by selling ads alongside search results promoting medical products and services.
Google Health was unveiled on February 2008. It is still in the development phase with no login page live yet but everything else is functional. Google announced that its future partners (Aetna, Duane Reade, Walgreens) can connect their proprietary closed health records with the user’s account and upload the data. Google does not plan to sell ads at this moment although they don’t exclude the possibility in the future. Instead, it automatically generates links to discussion groups with topics closely related with the user’s medical condition.