Today’s podcast with Sean Nolan, chief architect for HealthVault, continues the discussion that began two weeks ago with Peter Neupert, VP of Microsoft’s Health Solutions Group.

Topics discussed in this podcast include:

  • Trust relationships between HealthVault and partner applications
  • Current status of, and future prospects for, personal health monitoring devices that can connect to HealthVault
  • Ways people can use HealthVault: directly through personal devices and third-party web applications, indirectly through cooperating healthcare providers
  • Conformance to existing and emerging standards for the exchange of health information
  • Synergy between HealthVault and health.live.com

Although it is not yet evident to many people, HealthVault is a really big deal. “We are not a PHR [personal health record] application,” Sean Nolan says. Instead, he likens HealthVault to eBay. It’s an enabler for an ecosystem of products and services. Of course while both eBay and HealthVault create new marketplaces for existing products and services, HealthVault will also enable some new things not otherwise possible.

Here’s a small but telling example. If you’ve had one heart attack, weight gain is a strong predictor of a second one. A bathroom scale that can transmit readings to HealthVault could alert you to that imminent threat and perhaps save your life. But that’s only possible when there’s an ecosystem like the one HealthVault aims to bootstrap.

If we can get that ecosystem bootstrapped, the conversation — which is today, appropriately, very much focused on privacy and security — will take an interesting turn. Would you make your data available, in an anonymized form, for the sorts of aggregated analysis of treatments, procedures, and outcomes that could improve the quality and lower the cost of health care for everyone?

Some earlier items and commentary on HealthVault can be found here and here.