Prof G’s sabbatical and Microsoft’s HealthVault

Prof G is taking a sabbatical: what does he intend doing with his free time? #MSBlog #MSResearch

“It is now official I have finally been given the green light from my University to take a 6 months sabbatical from the 29th September 2014 to the 29th March 2015. I have been given permission to take a break from clinical and teaching activities to focus on research. Although I will do a lot of travelling during the 6 months, I will not be leaving London. I have accepted two lecture tours one to Canada later this year and a second to Australia in the New Year. I will also continue my principal investigator commitments on our MS clinical trials programme.”

My objectives for my sabbatical are the following:

1. To make sure we fully recruit the PROXIMUS study in 6 months
2. To write and submit a programme grant application and several project grants. These grants will all focus on progressive MS and the Charcot project.
3. To combine my Holistic Approach to MS tube map with my ClinicSpeak posts; i.e. to curate all the relevant ClinicSpeak blog posts into a format that is accessible from the tube map (click through). The aim is to create a web-based self-help guide for MSers to manage their own MS; this will include a crude decision aid to help you make decisions about what DMT to choose.
4. To pilot Microsoft HealthVault as an eMedicine portal for managing MS.

“We are continuously getting requests for opinions from MSers from all over the world; including parts of the world with poor access to MS expertise. Due to privacy and medico-legal issues we can’t respond by using regular emails and it is difficult to review investigations and MRI scans via email. Hence my colleagues and I want to test Microsoft HealthVault as a portal for eMedicine consultations. Why Microsoft HealthVault? Simple, it already exits, is controlled by you and it is free.  Microsoft HealthVault has also cleared all the necessary data protection and data encryption hurdles and it has even been given the green-light by the NHS.”

“What is Microsoft HealthVault? HealthVault is simply a cloud-based service where you store and log all your healthcare information and link it to compatible healthcare devices. HealthVault allows you to upload results of investigations, including MRI scans and other imaging files. You can then securely share your HealthVault or limited sections of your HealthVault with your neurologist or MS nurse so that they can make comments or give advice.  Microsoft HealthVault also has the ability to interface with Healthcare Apps so that data from the Apps are automatically uploaded into your vault. We are in discussion with a software developer to design a MS self-monitoring app that will interface with Microsoft HealthVault and allow you to track your disease. My interest in HealthVault is the ability to use it for research. Before writing a grant to get money to develop a HealthVault MS App I want to test out the feasibility of using HealthVault for eMedicine consultations, for monitoring MS, the user experience and the procedures require to make this work. To achieve this I am looking for a few volunteers to test the waters. Are you interested?”

“Just to say thank you to those of you who kindly volunteered to participate in the pilot scheme. I have more than enough MSers to run the pilot with HealthVault.”

“I believe Microsoft HealthVault is a very empowering tool and has the potential to revolutionize personal healthcare. Microsoft are encouraging healthcare and software developers to develop Apps for HealthVault and as far as I am concerned the sky is the limit in terms of what can be achieved in the MS space. I think it is time to join the eMedicine revolution. Do you?”

About the author

Prof G

Professor of Neurology, Barts & The London. MS & Preventive Neurology thinker, blogger, runner, vegetable gardener, husband, father, cook and wine & food lover.


  • I would love a sabbatical from MS. 6 months of normality – going for a run, no clinic appointment, no gabapentin. Perhaps this should be the outcome measure of trials of new therapies. At the end of the day, blogs, apps, tube maps aren't what I want. MD2 says knowledge is power. I couldn't give a hoot about knowledge. I want treatments which reverses some of the deficits caused by this disease. Relapse can prettyy much be controlled. Stopping progression must be nearly a reality. Repair must now be the prority. Get me back my old life and the whole MS research community can have a 5 year paid sabbatical and a baby Bentley.

    • Stopping Progression…until we hear how the up and coming trials get on is some way off and this is where ProfG is putting part of his energy.

    • We take progressive MS very seriously and have been working on it for years. I think it will take adoption of new ideas and new trial design to take things forward. However, we may have a positive phase 3 trial in PPMS in just a few months time. It won't stop progressive MS, but may slow it down. I hope the community view this as a positive?

    • I have taken a lot of stick from users already about daring to use a Microsoft product. What people don't realise that the HealthVault lowers the barriers to entry for eHealth. Setting-up a e-portal that ticks all the boxes for security etc. is not a trivial task. Using HealthVault allows you to leapfrog so many issues and it also allows the user to be in command. It is my HealthVault and if i don't like what X says then goodbye.

    • I plan to use Healthvault for the whole family. It will be a task to scan and upload everything but that was needed and overdue anyway. At the moment all old papers are in files and very insecure (getting tattered, could get lost, … )

    • I suspect not……but only ProfG can answer this. He has managed to post from the 4 corners of the Earth so I suspect he will continue to post from his sabbatical and may of course test-drive some of his ideas.

  • Congratulations on getting a sabbatical, it's not possible to keep all plates spinning and it is important and hopefully more productive to focus on one area in depth. I would love more ClinicSpeak posts as i have learnt a lot about decision making and clinical management from them and feel I have a much better understanding of my MS as a result. thank you and best wishes.

  • Just to reiterate sue a's post above – it will be a great opportunity for you to focus on one area in depth. Sabbaticals are such a good idea, hope you are very productive (as usual!)

  • Congratulations on getting this sabbatical. I've seen first hand how hard you work and how thinly you have to spread yourself sometimes, so I think it's great that you'll be able to put all your energies into a couple of areas that will really benefit from your expertise and knowledge and will hopefully bring about some positive future outcomes from us MSers. I second the the comment above though – just make sure you come back! 🙂

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