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Microsoft HealthVault To Square Up With Google Health In NHS Battle

We don't believe in politics so when Microsoft officially launched its much-vaunted Healthvault in the UK yesterday, we knew that something big was likely to happen over the next few months or so.

The fact that it happened on the day the Chancellor of the Exchequer unveiled his now infamous Tax-and-axe budget is a clear sign that Microsoft may well be interested in getting cosy with the current government in a bid to get some of the estimated £110 billion annual budget of the NHS.

Already last year, David Cameron told the Guardian that it wants people to use services such as Google Health and Microsoft HealthVault as an alternative to the now doomed £12 billion national patient record database, part of the NHS National Programme for IT.

Microsoft currently offers Healthvault solutions (opens in new tab) either to individuals or businesses with the former being told that HealthVault will allow them to "take charge" of their family's health and make better-informed health decisions.

The company further adds that it won't use personal information in HealthVault to personalise ads and services without explicit permission; "Won't" being the operative here; they didn't say "never".

If adopted by the current government, the NHS could save up to £5 billion a year, or £20 billion until the end of the current parliament which would go a long way to alleviate the current budget deficit crisis.

Singularly, the Lib-dems, the current coalition partners for the Tories were fiercely against a plan to privatise patients' data saying that it "leaves a nasty taste in the mouth that there are repeated references to Google, given the closeness of Team Cameron to that organisation".

Désiré Athow

Désiré has been musing and writing about technology during a career spanning four decades. He dabbled in website building and web hosting when DHTML and frames were en vogue and started writing about the impact of technology on society just before the start of the Y2K hysteria at the turn of the last millennium. Following an eight-year stint at where he discovered the joys of global tech-fests, Désiré now heads up TechRadar Pro. Previously he was a freelance technology journalist at Incisive Media, Breakthrough Publishing and Vnunet, and Business Magazine. He also launched and hosted the first Tech Radio Show on Radio Plus.