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Woman in a hospital bed using a cellphone

Halza keeps family medical records safe in a mobile vault built in the cloud

Most of us take our health for granted. We know we shouldn’t, but we often do anyway. So, when things go awry, our lives are disrupted and we’re put to the test. Plans are halted. Emotions run high. And we’re expected to make medical and other decisions — big and small — that we might not be prepared or equipped to make.

That’s why it’s important — and at times critical — to do as much prep work as possible so we can tackle life’s bigger issues as calmly and undistracted as possible.

A big part of being prepared is having ready access to medical records at any time and anywhere. A safe, private and secure mobile solution is needed and that’s where Halza, an app built on Microsoft Azure, may help.

Take the case of Nadim*, for instance. He lives in Indonesia and used to regularly visit his longtime cardiologist, Dr. Lim Tai Tian, who practices in neighboring Singapore. When the border between the two countries was shut due to COVID-19 restrictions last year, Nadim’s appointments in Singapore were put on hold indefinitely. Then one Saturday, Nazim presented to a Jakarta hospital with a headache and speech problems.

As soon as an MRI diagnostic test of the brain was done in Jakarta, the scans were uploaded onto Nazim’s Halza account and shared digitally with Dr. Lim in Singapore.

The medical team at the Jakarta hospital was also granted access to Nadim’s medical history via Halza, allowing doctors in two separate cities to work together quickly and collaboratively.

“A call was set up on the Sunday between myself and a neurosurgeon colleague in Jakarta to view the scans. We diagnosed him with a transverse and sagittal sinus thrombosis. An immediate treatment plan was implemented allowing the patient to start recovering,” Dr. Lim recalls.

“Instead of having to send physical copies of the scans via an express air service to Singapore, we won time in commencing a treatment locally in Jakarta, helping the patient recover faster and better. Halza allows my patients from overseas to share information electronically. In critical situations this is key,” Dr. Lim says.

Similarly, Emily* caught chickenpox while traveling overseas with her family. Her first reaction as a mother was to try and prevent her children from getting it too. She pulled out her smartphone and accessed Halza’s vaccination tracker. It confirmed that both her children were up to date with their shots, but her husband was not. Their hotel arranged for his jab that night and Emily was able to rest up, recover and enjoy the rest of their vacation with peace of mind.

“Holidays are moments you don’t want ruined by impediments, but life is unpredictable,” says Emily. “When that happens, you need access to certain information quickly.”

A smiling man
Halza’s Chief Technology Officer .Jeroen Hoebé

The Halza app offers medical data storage on the cloud and data-sharing capabilities so that users can keep themselves along with loved ones and others, like nominated medical professionals, informed. Customers keep complete ownership of their data so they can use it when they need it.

As a part of the Microsoft for Startups program, Halza was able to quickly build their app on Microsoft Azure, which offers top security and privacy

Halza has also developed “myHalza Pass” – a new product that will enable users to securely store and share vaccine information they will need for international travel. It is designed to serve a family’s needs and will have data archiving and offline functionality.

Customers keep complete ownership of their data so they can use it when they need it. All data is stored on and accessed from Microsoft Azure, which offers top security and privacy in the cloud.

With so much information being uploaded onto one app, privacy and security are top of mind for Halza’s IT team.

As Halza’s Chief Technology Officer Jeroen Hoebé explains, “Our clients have entrusted their data to us, so privacy must be our top priority.

“We surveyed different networks and chose Microsoft Azure because it’s built with privacy and security at its core. We wanted to leverage that know-how to build a best-in-class solution that is as user-friendly as it is safe.”

These days, many of us travel more in a year than our grandparents did in their lifetimes. Some of us have physicians in different cities or countries — as is the case with Nadim. We no longer have the same family doctor, dentist or other medical professionals throughout our lives, and we often have children or elders to care for.

Having ready access to medical records can be crucial. Now and then, things can fall through the cracks. Every time we see a different doctor, travel, or meet a new specialist, another crack can appear. That’s why every drug allergy, lab result, hospital discharge summary and test result should be presented together – so medical experts can get a full picture.

Sure, a binder or folder of all the receipts, prescriptions and records works too, but that requires the documents to always be on hand and its contents to be easily searchable. Another way is to keep a list on your phone, but that’s prone to inputting errors and you’re always an upgrade away from losing it.

A smiling woman
Halza’s Head of Marketing Laetitia Nguyen

Our health is all-important and health problems are often time-sensitive, so families have been turning to, and medical professionals have been recommending, apps like Halza to store and share their medical data.

As Dr. Dejan Jovanovic, a sports medicine specialist, points out, “having patients link to me on Halza allows me to quickly scan their medical history even before I examine them. I can compare new X-rays with previous ones, read examination notes and add my own comments so that their files are always up to date. Halza has helped improve the quality of my services as a doctor.”

Though benefits of using Halza are aplenty, many groan at the thought of uploading the data at the onset. But as Laetitia Nguyen, head of marketing at Halza, professes, “The earlier you start, the less there is to do. I started keeping my data before my kids were born with the ultrasounds and pre-natal care. And I’ve carried on doing so ever since.

A smiling man with his arms folded
Halza’s founder Richard Nijkerk.

“Keeping data updated only takes a minute or so after every doctor’s appointment. And since my parents have access to Halza too, the children can visit their grandparents for the summer, and I don’t have to worry. All the information is right there.”

Halza itself was borne out of a personal story. The Singapore-based company’s founder Richard Nijkerk came up with the idea after finding it hard to source medical history details for his parents when they fell ill some years ago.

“I created Halza from the frustration of not being in control of medical data,” he recalls. “Our lives are managed on mobile devices, from social chats to banking and investments. Health must be there, too.

“In this process, I also realized that we needed to give back to people the ownership of their data and knowledge about their health conditions, empowering them to make better decisions.

“A key value proposition of Halza is that your information is owned by you and therefore we do not share or sell your data. We are the health vault where you are in control at all times.”

* Patient names in this story have been changed for reasons of confidentiality.