I am super-excited to say that, as of last week, we have officially released the HealthVault service specification under the Community Promise. This means that anybody who wishes to create and operate their own version of the HealthVault service is free to do so. We have documented the interface at a level sufficient for re-implementation, and we grant an irrevocable, compensation-free license to use any Microsoft patents required to execute the specification.
This is a big deal — the last of three key initiatives we undertook more than a year ago to ensure that developers who build on top of HealthVault can be confident in their investment. We are not going away. But even if we did, or if for any reason a developer decided they no longer wanted to connect to “our” HealthVault, there is a realistic path to run against another implementation, with just a configuration change.
Will there be other implementations? That’s up to the market – we’ve made it possible.
When we first announced our intent to release the specification last April, we thought it would be published a lot sooner. As we’ve followed the long path to get it done, I’ve learned a ton about the internal processes and gates here at Microsoft that help protect our intellectual property. The company takes this incredibly seriously – and rightly so, as IP is our only real asset – so releasing it so freely is a huge step that required explicit approval at the highest levels of the company. It speaks volumes about our approach to the health market and our ecosystem partners.
We also originally planned to use the Open Specification Promise, and ended up using the similar Community Promise instead. Why? Because the CP allows us to limit the license to the healthcare domain, which seemed to make a bunch of sense. Other than that, basically the same deal.
So whether you need an open source library to work with HealthVault, want to see or build upon the complete source code tree for our .NET SDK, or want to go all-in and create your own version of the HealthVault service, it’s all good.
Yet another barrier knocked down, and yet another proof point that Microsoft is committed to do what is necessary to help spur real, fundamental change in our healthcare system.Sitting in a random hotel in Albany at 2am – having missed seeing my son turn two double plays in one game because I was on the plane to get here – this healthcare thing can seem like a long slog. It is just awesome to have things like this to get excited about and be a part of. Wooooo hoo!