IBM, Google Health and a consortium of medical device makers and other companies announced today that they have created a software platform that will allow medical data from at-home devices like glucose meters and blood pressure monitors to be sent automatically to Google Health or other Personal Health Records systems online. It's a broad reaching software platform that will bring data portability and medical records interoperability in direct conflict with a huge industry entrenched in siloed data.

If you think that "data portability" and standards for an open web hold a lot of promise to fuel innovation in social networking, just imagine what a secure, standards-based, data landscape could enable in health care.

While the Obama administration is looking to pump billions of dollars into modernizing health care, and health care records in particular, industry thought leaders are urging the US government to advance that funding with requirements concerning open data standards and interoperability. The consortium's software platform being announced today could be an example of the kind of technology we'll be seeing a lot more of, soon.

The Continua Alliance, made up of companies like Nokia, Intel and Panasonic, along with IBM and Google, highlighted a handful of factors in the announcement. The technology will be useful in a wide variety of case types ("including chronic disease management, health and wellness, and elderly care"), in the US and around the world. By leveraging online services, the platform will enable healthcare providers to leverage scale in ways that otherwise isolated medical monitoring can not. And by putting the software into widespread use, the group hopes to make significant headway in supporting open standards and "interoperable healthcare products and solutions." That's on top of all the standard consumer benefits of online health records. (See coverage at Medgadget for more details and a link to the press release.) The companies don't yet have any name for the platform but say it's tested and ready to deploy.

The group also said that supporting the development of Google Health was one of its goals, but we hope that the technology will support the development of an entire ecosystem of complimentary, competing and interoperable health data services.

That kind of language is both similar to what advocates of social networking "data portability" use and represents the kind of steps we'd love to see more of from big vendors in all kinds of technology sectors.

Open, standardized data, backed up by certified security measures and serving as the foundation of a new era of innovation is a fantastic vision. If you think that big players in social networking have a financial interest in data lock-in, though, just imagine the resistance that "data portability" could face in the multi-trillion dollar medical industry.

The companies collaborating on this platform believe that consumer demand for informed care, combined with the vendor participation already gathered, will force the rest of the industry to open, down to every medical practitioner challenged by patients to use portable data in treatment. That seems like a sound strategy to us.