Don't count Microsoft out of mobile health

Just when you thought Microsoft was out of the mHealth game, the software giant recently announced its Bing Health & Fitness Windows Phone app. Launched as a beta version through the Windows Phone app store, it represents a milestone in Microsoft's targeting of the exploding health and fitness market.

Branded under the Bing search engine, one industry analyst has described the app as "Fitbit meets RunKeeper meets MyFitnessPal… synchronizing users' data across their Windows 8 devices," with the ability to track users' overall health, nutrition intake, calories and workout trends, among other capabilities.

Microsoft's entrance into the health-fitness tracking market comes at a time when Apple and Google, as well as Samsung and other tech behemoths, are looking to take advantage of strong consumer interest in this area. According to the latest Citrix Mobile Analytics Report, health and fitness apps are among the fastest growing mobile app categories. Within the health category, the top 10 most popular by subscriber usage are related to fitness and running, weight loss and nutrition and women's health.  

However, Microsoft is not limited to the consumer and software side of mHealth. The company has also launched its Surface tablets in the healthcare market, promoting them as enterprise-level devices for clinicians. Working in Microsoft's favor is the fact that two popular EHR vendors, Cerner and Epic, have created interfaces for the Surface and the Windows 8 operating system.

Epic's Hyperspace 2014 app is now optimized for mobile Windows 8.1 tablets and ultrabooks on Internet Explorer 10 for its 2014 interim release. Windows 8 tablets are the first tablet form devices certified to run the full version of Epic's Hyperspace. In addition, AirStrip offers first and only mobile cardiac care solution to operate on all Windows 8.1 devices, including Surface tablet.

Palomar Health in Escondido, Calif. is acting as the pilot site for AirStrip ONE Cardiology for Windows. Also, Seattle Children's Hospital has purchased more than 250 Surface Pro devices and has standardized its executive team on Surface in order to provide clinicians with a modern user-face with its EMR system while adhering to HIPAA and other security regulations.

In the hospital setting, most desktop-based EHR systems are installed on Windows PCs. Consequently, Windows 8 tablets allow clinicians to run EHR apps natively in a Windows environment, which creates an identical user experience between the desktop and mobile platforms. 

Microsoft might not have the flash and pizzazz of Apple's iWatch or Google Glass, but don't count them out of the mobile health game just yet. - Greg (@Slabodkin)