Or perhaps I should say, HealthVault has come to the British. I am extremely pleased to announce that as of today, HealthVault is now available in the UK. It was just a couple of weeks ago that I announced the availability of HealthVault (as Telus health space) in Canada. Now, HealthVault has made its way across the pond.
HealthVault is available in the UK through a partnership with MSN Life and Style (My Health Info). Some of the first services on the site are being offered by a UK-based charity Nuffield Health. Nuffield is a not-for-profit owner and operator of hospitals, sports centers, health clubs and wellbeing centers in the UK. According to the company’s web site, Nuffield’s mission is:
To advance, promote and maintain health and health care of all descriptions and to prevent, relieve and cure sickness and ill health of every kind.
To fulfil charitable aims, Nuffield provides services to help people get healthy and stay healthy, to understand and manage their personal health risks, and to get timely diagnosis and treatment for any problems which arise.
Since HealthVault is all about giving people more control over their personal health information and well being, Nuffield is perhaps a perfect partner. But the real opportunity here is in what’s ahead. At launch, citizens in the UK will be able to do many of the things that HealthVault users in the U.S. have been doing for some time; storing and sharing their personal health information with family, caregivers and others who need to know; participating in health and wellness programs and activities; and seamlessly connecting with devices like blood pressure cuffs and smart scales to help them monitor and take greater control over personal health issues. Now that the HealthVault platform is in place in the UK, the opportunity exists for developers, device manufacturers, and caregivers there to take advantage of the connectivity with consumers that the HealthVault platform enables.
In a prior post, I mentioned the good work of staff model health maintenance organizations in the United States. These are organizations like Group Health and Kaiser. I commented that the best examples of eHealth integration in America today are generally found in provider organizations where there is good alignment between the payment of care and providers of care. When there is such alignment, the opportunities to drive greater efficiency in the delivery of health information and medical services can blossom. For example, Group Health reports that they have been able to transfer nearly 30 percent of their primary care volume to services they now provide online.
The fact of the matter is that the National Health Service in the UK is an ideal environment for the application of these eHealth best practices. According to research, 13% of the UK population are actively interested and engaged in looking after their “wellness”. They do things such as exercise regularly, look after their diet, monitor their weight, or take their temperature and blood pressure. Evidence suggests that people who are actively engaged in their wellness use only about two-thirds of the NHS resources compared to those who don’t look after themselves. If tools like HealthVault and programs from HealthVault partners could lift that number to 25% of the population, it is estimated that the NSH could save up to £five billion a year. Now imagine what would happen if the NHS, like Group Health, was able to transfer up to 30 percent of the volume that is currently in their physical facilities to eHealth encounters by using proven modalities to better meet the demand for health information and certain kinds of medical services.
That is the opportunity, and also the challenge. Who will now rise to that occasion? Our cousins overseas are now well positioned, some might say better positioned than we are in the US, to take up the challenge and run with it. Who will be next?
My colleague, John Coulthard, who serves as senior director for healthcare and life sciences in the UK, provides additional information about the UK launch of HealthVault on his blog.
Bill Crounse, MD Senior Director, Worldwide Health Microsoft