Microsoft wades into electronic medical records

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Leapfrogging over the government and other information technology companies, Microsoft has introduced a free Web site for consumers to store and manage medical information.

The HealthVault site, which Microsoft officials claim is safe from data miners, hackers and other security threats, allows for the storage of health records, lab results and prescription lists, and people can choose what pieces of their records they want to share with whom. HealthVault is free to patients and providers alike, the company said, noting advertising will support the site.

The move by Microsoft indicates that the private sector is finding a niche in the growing sector of health information technology. President Bush in 2004 called for a national electronic medical records system. He also created a new office of information technology.