Microsoft launches new online health record, search service

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Microsoft today announced that it has made the leap into the online consumer healthcare space by offering free personal health records on the Web.

The service called HealthVault will offer consumers personal health records and an Internet search engine tailored for health.

“The value of what we're doing will go up rapidly as we get more partners,” Peter Neupert, the vice president in charge of Microsoft's health group, told The New York Times.

Several organizations including Johnson & Johnson, the American Heart Association, LifeScan, NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital, the Mayo Clinic and MedStar Health, a network of seven hospitals in the Baltimore-Washington region, have already signed on for HealthVault-related projects.

Meanwhile last month, Google sought to quell rumors that it is looking to get into the consumer online healthcare space.

“Google is not a healthcare company, nor do we aspire to be one,” product marketing manager Missy Krasner said during a panel discussion at the Health 2.0 User Generated Healthcare conference in San Francisco on Sept. 20.

“We are taking this kind of slowly and have a very modest approach. Right now, our business model is to put out a product that is valuable to users that will help drive search.”

Krasner's comments followed the recent departure of Adam Bosworth, Google's executive in charge of the company's health information push, who parted ways with the company just a few weeks ago to pursue “other interests.”

Bosworth joined Google three years ago from software provider BEA and had been thought to be working on a major new health service at the company.

Google watchers had speculated the new service could also be centered on ways to allow consumers to create breakthrough ways to search for health information online and create their own personal electronic medical records.

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