According to the Associated Press, The Mayo Clinic is combining its medical expertise with Microsoft's HealthVault technology to lauch a site allowing anyone to store their personal health and medical information.
The Mayo Clinic Health Manager can store medical histories, test results, immunization files and other records from doctors' offices and hospital visits, along with data from home devices like heart rate monitors.
Anyone can sign up for an account, not just Mayo Clinic patients. Users can give access to different slices of their health information to doctors and family members as the need arises. Mayo hopes the site will help people better manage chronic conditions such as diabetes, high cholesterol and high blood pressure at home.
In the health care system of the future, sites like Mayo Clinic's might connect seamlessly with pharmacies, hospitals and doctors' offices to update records. Today, however, while Microsoft's HealthVault system can connect to some pharmacies, insurance companies and providers, most doctors have yet to invest in an electronic system. For patients, that means typing the results of surgeries, lab tests and other information into the Health Manager themselves.
In addition, privacy advocates urge people who want to set up a personal health record online to read the fine print. Deven McGraw, director of the health privacy project at the Washington-based Center for Democracy and Technology, said sites like the Mayo Clinic Health Manager aren't currently covered by national laws that specify cases in which health care systems can access and share information without patients' consent.