By Amy Thomson
Tuesday, June 10, 2008
Microsoft, the world's largest software maker, has joined with Kaiser Permanente, the biggest U.S. nonprofit health management organization, to expand its HealthVault online medical-records program.
Kaiser will offer 156,000 of its employees the opportunity to test the program, which will combine Kaiser's online health records with Microsoft's applications for monitoring weight, allergies and other medical data, the companies said yesterday in a statement.
The arrangement pits Redmond, Wash.-based Microsoft against the Google Health program and Web site operators such as Health Records Online. Microsoft doesn't charge for the service, which might draw more traffic to its Web sites, said Peter Neupert, vice president of Microsoft's health solutions group. (Health Records Online charges for its services.)
Microsoft is competing with Google, operator of the most popular U.S. Internet search engine, for a larger share of the online advertising market, which Microsoft says could almost double to about $80 billion worldwide by 2010.
Microsoft was up 22 cents, closing at $27.71 yesterday in Nasdaq Stock Market trading. Its shares had dropped 23 percent this year before yesterday. Google, based in Mountain View, Calif., declined $9.13, or 1.6 percent, to $557.87, and had lost 18 percent this year.
The trial will end by Nov. 1, and Oakland, Calif.-based Kaiser could offer HealthVault to its 8.7 million members by the end of the year, Anna-Lisa Silvestre, the HMO's vice president of online services, said in an interview before the announcement.
Microsoft declined to say how many subscribers HealthVault has.
Kaiser's online health tracker, which has more than 2 million users, lets people e-mail doctors, schedule appointments and refill prescriptions online. Windows Live members can sign up for a HealthVault account and share the data with doctors or family members.