Last week we reported on an interview that health blogger Amy Tenderich carried out with Google Health's Missy Krasner. Amy has followed up with an interview with Keith Toussaint, Senior Program Manager with Microsoft HealthVault.

As we shall see, the two tech rivals - Google and Microsoft - have much in common when it comes to their online health apps.

Microsoft HealthVault was launched in October '07. Based on Microsoft's existing health search engine, the service aimed to become a central repository for people to store and selectively share their health information and records - including patient records, test results, and prescription info.

As with Google Health, Microsoft is essentially building a platform for other, smaller services to tap into. Neither bigco wants to get involved in the tricky world of health records compliance and prescription. Both are encouraging more specialized health-focused services to do that legwork - and Google and Microsoft will provide the tech infrastructure and focus on ordinary users.

Like Google, Microsoft is emphasizing that it's still early stages in this market. Said Keith Toussaint:

"We knew going in that introducing a new type of consumer health solution is a long-term endeavor; we have to be in this for the long haul. Health is, as you know, a HUGE ecosystem -- trillions of dollars, hundreds of millions of consumers/patients, hundreds of thousands of physicians, thousands of hospitals, hundreds of insurance plans and so on. We also knew the greatest value of HealthVault to consumers will come when we can offer connectivity throughout the health ecosystem and give people the ability to use their personal health information in a wide range of health and wellness applications and share it with the providers and plans of their choice. We're still in the early phases of developing the HealthVault ecosystem but we're making great progress."

Toussaint admitted they are essentially competing with Google "to find the best developers" for their HealthVault platform, but that "we're not in some kind of hot market share battle now because it's so early."

Indeed Toussaint used the comparison of Coke and Pepsi to illustrate their nascent competition with Google:

"Leading hospitals like Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center are actually integrating their systems with both us and Google -- because some people like one or the other. It's a Coke or Pepsi thing. And why not program with both? It's fine as far as we're concerned; this whole space is still so small, and has such huge potential, that we can both grow huge and succeed without bumping heads. Later on, head-to-head competition will probably be more important."

So it seems that it's difficult to 'taste the difference' between HealthVault and Google Health. They are both platforms, neither tries to be a healthcare provider or conduit between healthcare professionals and patients, and both have search as their business model. There are differences in the two services when you drill down, but at a high level they're very similar.

Let us know if you've used either system and if so what your experience has been.

Image credit: Senor Adventure