HealthVault breaks free from the desktop!

DANG it is fun to talk about HealthVault --- today the team propped another great release, and this one changes the face of the platform pretty radically. It is going to be really fun to see what new applications start popping up over the next few months.

We’ve gone mobile!

It’s become completely obvious that mobile devices are rapidly taking over as the primary way that folks communicate and compute in their daily lives. This makes complete sense for health, where virtually all meaningful activity happens away from our laptops: office visits, emergencies, workouts, daily glucose testing, sleeping, you name it.

That’s why I’m so excited that HealthVault is finally a first-class mobile citizen.

To start with, users who visit on their mobile device will now automatically see their information in a layout specially-designed for quick access during a health encounter. Filling out that clipboard AGAIN? Just pop up your browser and know exactly when you had that last tetanus shot, what year your knee surgery was, or how to spell hydrochlorothiazide. Pretty awesome!

But wait, there’s more --- we’ve also built client libraries for constructing rich, standalone HealthVault applications across all of the most popular phone platforms. The SDK and samples for Windows Phone 7 are available now; Apple iOS and Google Android will be available within weeks. (I will post again when these pop.)

The folks at Akvelon have already been pushing the envelope on this --- their very cool Health Guard app is already up on the WP7 marketplace. Woo hoo! I can’t wait to see more and more awesome, task-focused mobile applications start to come online. I’m working on one of my own, but it’s a secret! 😉

CCR/CCD Auto-Reconciliation

More and more clinical partners are sharing visit summaries with their patients in CCR and CCD format (doesn’t hurt that it’s a Meaningful Use objective). HealthVault is really good at accepting these files and breaking them apart into their component bits --- enabling folks to easily create, for example, comprehensive medication and allergy lists that they can use in other settings.

Up until now, initiating this “reconciliation” process was a manual step --- users had to sign into HealthVault and confirm they wanted to incorporate the items into their record. We took this conservative approach very deliberately, because it’s hard to do things like identify duplicate items that come from multiple sources, and we thought it was safer to let users manage the process themselves.

The obvious downside of this approach, though, was that it created a roadblock to efficient sharing between authorized applications. For example, an app that monitors a record for drug interactions couldn’t do its job completely until the user manually went through reconciliation --- which runs counter to the whole point of a “guardian angel” application in the first place.

Well, we’ve learned a ton since then about safely doing automatic reconciliation, and with this release we’ve enabled it by default. Users still have the ability to require manual intervention, and if we find something in the files we don’t understand we’ll always fall back to that option. But for most files we get, we’ll be able to make the data immediately available.

This is a great feature --- Matt and Jeff have been really persistent about making this process better and better and better. It’s just more evidence that we are thinking really hard about all the little details that have to come together to make the ecosystem work seamlessly.

Facebook Authentication!

Three years ago when we added OpenID as an authentication option to HealthVault, I explained our motivation like this:

As we've always said, HealthVault is about consumer control -- empowering individuals with tools that let them choose how to share and safeguard their personal health information. OpenID support is a natural fit for this approach, because it allows users to choose the "locksmith" that they are most comfortable with.

Today there’s a new “locksmith” in town. For many folks, Facebook is the Internet --- the social networking juggernaut has become the starting point for an incredibly broad swath of online activity, and “health” happens there all the time.

With this release, we’re acknowledging Facebook’s central role in people’s lives by allowing users to sign into HealthVault using their Facebook credentials. It’s important to note that this does NOT mean that HealthVault information will show up on your wall! Today, data only moves from Facebook to HealthVault, not the other way around --- we use your name, birthdate, etc. from Facebook to populate the HealthVault signup form, but that’s it.

(Note that there may be great opportunities to create native Facebook applications that include HealthVault data … we just want to be sure folks understand that it is not happening now, and would only ever happen with explicit, separate user opt-in.)

The Facebook team has been really supportive of our moves in this area. We have been super-impressed with the seriousness with which they’ve responded to recent security issues. It is also a perfect complement to our recently-announced “second factor” account protection option --- if they like, users can log in with their Facebook credentials but get an extra security boost by having HealthVault call them on their mobile for confirmation before granting access.

We’re really hopeful that, for those who choose it, this new option will make it even easier to integrate HealthVault into their daily lives. Just great stuff.


The team is already hard at work on what’s next for HealthVault. Want a hint? I’m not supposed to say – but think family safety. It’s going to be awesome too. I can’t wait!

PS. As always, the team has put out a great developer-focused post detailing of all of these features and the other stuff (like SSO, yippee!) we’ve delivered as part of this release on the HealthVault developer blog --- take a look!

Comments (10)
  1. Lin Zhi says:

    Hi, Sean, I am Lin from China.

    It is great to find a person working in the HealthVault project.

    I am a Microsoft fan. I want to try this service but an Identity Code is necessary which stops me to register.

    Another thing is naming. There are multiple means about "Vault", "a strongroom or compartment (often made of steel) for safekeeping of valuables" is good in Chinese while "a burial chamber (usually underground)" is not good in our mind.

    However since the service is not available in China, it is not emergent to rename it.(

  2. David G. says:

    Hi, you mentioned 5 weeks ago, than in few weeks Android App was going to be available… How many weeks left for this to be released? Thank you.

  3. Sean Nolan says:

    David — posted the links for iOS and Android libraries just last week; see here:…/healthvault-mobile-libraries-for-ios-and-android-check.aspx … hope you build something awesome with them. Let me know if you run into any trouble. —S

  4. Sean Nolan says:

    Lin — thanks for the note! We are working with a partner (iSoftStone) to make HealthVault available in China as quickly as possible.

    The folks helping us there have also mentioned the different interpretations of "Vault" so we may end up seeing a different branding, I'm not sure.

    Can't wait to be able to support you as a user. Thanks again!


  5. Ktg419 says:

    According to this, the Apple version for iPad and IPhone should be out now…… BUT…..Where can I find it? Anybody know?

  6. Sean Nolan says:

    Ktg419 — see my previous comment response and blog post here:…/healthvault-mobile-libraries-for-ios-and-android-check.aspx … iOS library was released a few weeks ago! Link is:…/HealthVault-Mobile-iOS-Library.

  7. David Forsberg says:

    Is a Windows Mobile 6.5 HealthVault app available, or will it become available soon?  I know the focus is now on 7.0, but those of us still living in the pre-7.0 world would like to beleive that we will not be forgotten by Microsoft.

  8. davidpendergast@mac,com says:

    Medical records application for your smartphone

    I would like to develop an app that could be used by individuals to monitor their health using their smart  phone to keep their own records.  The same information could also be used by health care providers to be informed and to update records of patients on an ongoing basis.  

    Every time I go to a doctors office for any reason I am asked to show up at the office 30 minutes ahead of my appointment so that I can update the records.  Why couldn’t this be handled in a few seconds through a wireless interface between my smart phone and the doctors office medical records computer?  For that matter why couldn’t that happen via internet as well?  This would require a standard format that could be built into an app that could be easily filled out either at a PC or smartphone or any other PDA device.  It would include relevant health information like current medications, surgeries, allergies, diet, weight, blood glucose levels. blood pressure readings, therapies etc. and would allow the patient to input specific and or unique data pertaining to up coming visit.  

    How could such an app be created, marketed?   I’d like to work on this as a project that could be helpful to patients and medical professionals, cut down on paper work, facilitate communications between patients and medical pros, even between medical service providers.  

    What are your thoughts about how to get something like this together.  I need technical help re building such an app and also would need to have a strategy for getting the format together to accumulate and manage the information. I’m sure that there are privacy issues to be addressed as well and probable legal matters pertaining to medical records.  

    I’d welcome your ideas and thoughts about this project

  9. Sean Nolan says:

    DavidP, we'd love to see more providers get connected in exactly the way you are describing! Our first cut at the mobile interface at makes sure you have the information available when you're in the waiting room, but of course the real win is when you can just send it electronically.

    Traditionally the problem here has been that there hasn't been a "standard" way to send the information to provider's electronic systems. You might start by looking at formats like the "Continuity of Care Document" or "Continuity of Care Record" — these are gaining some popularity.

    You also might try posting your interest at the HealthVault forums at, to see if you can find some like-minded individuals to help work on your project.

    Good luck!


  10. Sean Nolan says:

    DavidF — we aren't actively building a 6.5 application, but the authorization protocols we built for mobile should work with them just fine. I would love to see an enterprising developer build for the 6.5 phones out there!

    The other option is that we will continue to enhance the mobile web site, which should work fine on 6.5-based browsers, so even without a dedicated app your HV data will be accessible.


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