So Microsoft beat Google to the punch with HealthVault, an online personal health record (PHR) system that allows for the uploading of health data and sharing it with family members, health care providers, etc.

This is a great day for Health 2.0, consumer control of their medical information, etc., right? A ton of ink and pixels have been spilled already, and will continue to be spilled, debating the merits of the platform, its security, its interoperability, its privacy controls, its continued replacement of the PCP with PC.

While I don’t want to seem like a total curmudgeon, I think that it demonstrates yet another dimension of the breakdown of the U.S. health care system.

The foundation of HealthVault, as a business, appears to be the fact — or perception — that it is unreasonable to expect that health care providers will communicate with each other and with their patients openly and fully.

Why wouldn’t Microsoft — which bought an EHR company not too long ago — develop a "universal translator" to ensure interoperability of EHR systems, and assist EHR compliance with CCHIT interoperability standards, rather than embracing the consumer-focused ad-driven Google model? (Who knows? Maybe Microsoft is doing both.)

Are providers and payors working to create, enforce and promote performance standards focused on communication? Let’s hope that they are — perhaps with Microsoft working with them as a vendor — so that personal health does not become dependent on an ad-supported web portal.

David Harlow