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Microsoft software to let patients see medical records

New HealthVault Community Connect will allow you to view your own medical records, lab tests, and prescriptions, and preregister for hospital appointments.

Microsoft is unveiling new health care software that will give you a glimpse of your own medical records online.

The company on Monday announced its new HealthVault Community Connect software, which is geared toward hospitals interested in helping patients access their own health care history.

Following a hospital stay, you and your personal doctors can view electronic copies of your hospital records online. Using the software, you can also preregister for future hospital appointments using your existing medical information.

You log onto the hospital's patient Web site, said Microsoft, where you can call up physican notes, discharge instructions, prescriptions, and lab and radiology results. You can send copies of your hospital records to your personal HealthVault account, if you have one. HealthVault is a free service from Microsoft that lets you store and organize all your health care records online.

Your personal doctor or referring specialist can also request access to the system to keep on top of your hospital care and ongoing treatment. Microsoft said that the hospital will control the list of outside physicians who are able to tap into your records.

"With HealthVault Community Connect, we are targeting one of the fundamental gaps in the care process -- the lack of electronic information flow between the hospital, the patient and the patient's care team outside the hospital," said David Cerino, general manager of Microsoft Health Solutions Group, in a statement. "By allowing patients and their personal physicians to access electronic copies of their discharge instructions, for example, hospitals can facilitate better health outcomes by getting the relevant information into the hands of the people who need it most."

HealthVault Community Connect was announced at 2010 Annual Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society (HIMSS) Conference & Exhibition, a health care trade show taking place in Atlanta this week.

The software is designed for any size hospital, said Microsoft. It can also integrate with a hospital's existing network enviroment and run on Microsoft's SharePoint Server. HealthVault Community Connect is slated to debut in the third quarter of this year.

With the push toward lowering medical costs by modernizing the system, Microsoft has been one of several tech companies introducing new health care products. Last year, the company formed a venture with CVS to let people download their prescription information to their HealthVault accounts. It also has been buying companies to enhance its medical portfolio, most recently picking up health care sofware maker Sentillion in December.

Microsoft's Amalga product line is designed to help doctors and patients more easily access and organize medical records and is currently being used in large hospitals such as New York-Presbyterian.