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Microsoft's Online Health Service Makes Canadian Foray

Telus Corp., the second-largest telecommunications operator in Canada, has inked an agreement with Microsoft Corp. that enables customers to manage health files from personal databases. The fruit of their liaison is expected to appear in the next six to 12 months.

This marks the first deal in which a non-US partner will use Microsoft's HealthVault, which debuted in 2007 when studies demonstrated users increasingly look to the internet to self-diagnose or for health information in general. Rival Google also possesses proprietary technology that enables online users to maintain health records online or seek professional medical assistance.

"The governments are in a situation where health care costs are spiralling to a point where, without investment in technology and [electronic] health records, you actually can't solve the problem of health care. You can't crack the code on health care," said President-Business Solutions Joe Natale of Telus (via The Globe and Mail), who also expressed his conviction that the push for electronic health records is gaining long-awaited momentum.

HealthVault draws customer health data from panoply of sources and is compliant with multiple types of user interfaces. It is expected to benefit from Telus' strong distribution network; the latter's subscriber base totals over 11 million Canadians.

Last year Telus purchased Montreal-based Emergis, which manages health and financial data. It also mitigates the transfer of patient records and the processing of loan applications. And earlier this year, Microsoft inked a partnership similar to the one it made with Telus: the Hawaii Medical Service Association now uses HealthVault to facilitate virtual appointment-making with physicians.

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