This blog was also posted on the Microsoft News Center.

Following the Google Health announcement, a number of people have questioned whether Microsoft will continue to develop HealthVault without another vendor like Google to ‘compete’ against. The reality is that we’ve always viewed the status quo as our biggest competitor and Google as an ally in the movement to transform health care around the world – so we’re sorry to lose their voice in the discussion.

Since Google’s announcement, the two companies have worked together to create ways for Google Health users to transfer their data into Microsoft HealthVault. Today, we announced an option that leverages the Direct Project protocol for encrypted messaging to enable the data transfer with just a few clicks.

And what about HealthVault? Will Microsoft continue to invest? HealthVault is not peripheral to Microsoft’s health IT business – it’s core to our strategy and to what we believe is required to truly make a difference in health and health care.

In order to transform health care, I’ve said for a long time that data must flow across the system – from the hospital to the physician to the home. Health care should be a data-driven industry, and software is designed to manage data in efficient and effective ways – creating new insights that often lead to new ways of delivering care. Whether it’s a clinical pharmacist who needs access to a patient’s complete history or a patient who is tracking her diet, exercise and blood pressure readings to better manage her hypertension – having the right information at the right time is critical to decision-making about health and health care – and it’s the key to delivering better value.

To accomplish this, health care stakeholders need better systems in provider organizations and better systems for connecting caregivers with patients. Microsoft’s strategy and investments continue to be focused on delivering these systems – Microsoft Amalga, which is designed to help health systems streamline operations and connect care teams, and HealthVault, which enables engagement with patients. We believe these two platforms combined – Amalga and HealthVault – can transform care and create a patient-centric health system.

Getting there has been – and continues to be – hard work – and it’s not happening as fast as we’d like.

Because of how HUGE the health ecosystem is – trillions of dollars, hundreds of millions of consumers/patients, hundreds of thousands of physicians, thousands of hospitals, hundreds of insurance plans and so on – progress is hard.

But we are seeing changes. In the US, incentives are being realigned to foster engagement with patients and management of care beyond the walls of an organization. And the government is driving projects to support the flow of data across the health care system. The UK is also focused on some exciting ideas around transforming health care delivery. And we’re in conversations with a number of governments and large health care providers around the world about how technology can enable the flow of data across the health care ecosystem to better manage the health of a population – at lower cost.

So, for people wondering about the future of HealthVault and Microsoft’s ongoing commitment to health care, let me be clear. We continue to be focused on driving change in health and health care around the world through data liberation. This is the position we staked out 5+ years ago – and the ongoing focus of our investments.