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Statement Regarding Microsoft's Announcement of New Services to Help People Store Their Health Information Online

PRINCETON, N.J., Oct. 4 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The following is a statement regarding Microsoft's announcement of new services to help people store their health information online:

It is encouraging that companies like Microsoft, Google and other IT leaders plan to develop personal health record (PHR) products and systems that people can use to manage their health information securely, and we hope more companies will follow suit. Having ready access to your own health information -- instead of having your medical history stored in paper form in a doctor's office where you can't see it -- is a vital step in helping physicians and patients work together to improve care.

In order to live up to their potential to transform health care, PHRs must be more than online repositories of our medical records. All trends point to the fact that, in the future, consumers will need to be far more engaged in the management and coordination of their health care. Access to health information is a great start, but the real power lies in pairing that information with smart, consumer-friendly tools that help people make sound decisions and take action to improve their health.

To get there, IT developers and entrepreneurs must produce new PHR tools and devices that build off of open platforms. Taking PHRs to this next level could yield substantial benefits for patients and caregivers. Today, for example, patients can enter a list of all of their medications in to an online PHR. While this is a key first step, next-generation PHR tools and systems may use that core list to generate customized prompts to take medications, trigger alerts for harmful drug interactions, scan online retailers for the lowest prescription prices, and so on.

If we seize this opportunity to expand on the current vision of PHRs, we can usher in a vibrant marketplace that offers a range of powerful tools that help people take action to manage their health and coordinate their care on a day-to-day basis.

Stephen J. Downs

Senior Program Officer and Deputy Director, Health Group

Robert Wood Johnson Foundation

The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation supports Project HealthDesign, a program to design 'the next generation' of PHRs and PHR systems. The project enlists technology designers, privacy experts, patients and others to explore new approaches to PHRs that will help people harness their medical information in practical ways as they go about their daily lives. The project serves as a catalyst in encouraging technology vendors to build tailored, interoperable PHR applications that meet patients' specific needs and can operate on a common platform.

For information on Project HealthDesign, visit

SOURCE Robert Wood Johnson Foundation
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