Microsoft Enters Health Information Domain with HealthVault

WASHINGTON -- Computer giant Microsoft is surfing into the health-care information field with a free service that allows consumers to store their medical information online.

WASHINGTON, Oct. 4 -- Computer giant Microsoft is surfing into the health-care information field.

The company announced today the creation of what it calls HealthVault, a free "software and services platform" that allows people to store health information securely online.

Information such as blood pressure or weight loss can be uploaded and -- once online -- can be shared with doctors or any other recipients a user chooses, the company said.

The goal is to reduce "unnecessary confusion, paperwork and delays," Microsoft said.

"The launch of HealthVault makes it possible for people to collect their private health information on their terms and for companies across the health industry to deliver compatible tools and services built on the HealthVault platform," Microsoft said in a statement.

The company said a number of companies and organizations are already involved in with project, including among others the American Diabetes Association, the American Heart Association, Home Diagnostics Inc., and NextGen Healthcare Information Systems Inc.

The HealthVault software is available online, the company said.

Microsoft is also offering a search function that will allow consumers to track down health-related information. Advertising on the search engine is expected to support the free HealthVault site, the company said.