When I started digging into developments around electronic medical records some time ago, the first two vendors I spoke with were Microsoft and Google. With HealthVault and Google Health, they were among the first to offer health information repositories to the general public in the U.S. Now that the Obama Administration is focused on transforming the health care system -- and with it the health IT systems at work in this country -- Microsoft and Google are right where they need to be to take part in the transition.
In the UK, e-health records have been the norm for awhile, except all patient data is housed in a National Health System database, and as such, owned by the government. According to Gartner's Andrea DiMaio, the UK's Conservative Party is pushing for that to change. She points to a recent report from The Centre for Policy Studies titled, "It's Ours - Why We, Not Government, Must Own Our Data." The report advocates abandoning what it calls "expensive and failing centralized IT projects" such as the NHS database and instead allowing patients, it they so choose, to participate in Microsoft's HealthVault or Google Health as a means of sharing information with their health care providers.
DiMaio then goes on to say:
I just published a research note about the concept of citizen data vault where I said that "the emergence of personal health records as cloud-based services raises the question of citizen direct control of their data versus government control and whether this would apply to other government domains."
As the U.S. moves toward electronic health records for each citzen and continues to tweak the IT standards by which such information will be stored and shared in this country, we should be mindful of these questions as well.