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Family health history tool released by HHS
Internet-based tool expected to improve care
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has released an updated and improved version of the Surgeon General's Internet-based family health history tool. The new tool makes it easier for consumers to assemble and share family health history information and helps practitioners make better use of health history information.
"This valuable tool can put family histories to work to improve patient well-being and the quality of care," former HHS Secretary Mike Leavitt said. "The tool is built on health information technology standards that make it more convenient for consumers and more useful for practitioners. It is ready for use in electronic health records. And its software code will be openly available to other health organizations, so they can customize and build on its standards base."
Key features of the new version of the Surgeon General's My Family Health Portrait include:
Convenience - Consumers can access the tool easily on the Web. Completing the family health history profile typically takes 15-20 minutes.
Consumer control and privacy - The family health history tool gives consumers access to software that builds a family health tree. But the personal information entered during the use of the tool is not kept by a government or other site.
Sharing - Because the information is in electronic form, it can be easily shared with relatives or with practitioners.
EHR-ready, decision support-ready - Because the new tool is based on commonly used standards, the information it generates is ready for use in electronic health records and personal health records. It can be used in developing clinical decision software, which helps the practitioner understand and make the most use of family health information.
Personalization of care - Family history information can help alert practitioners and patients to patient-specific susceptibilities.
Downloadable, customizable - The code for the new tool is openly available for others to adopt. Health organizations are invited to download and customize, using the tool under their own brand and adding features that serve their needs. Developers may also use the code to create new risk assessment software tools. A ready process for organizations to download the family health history code is at https://gforge.nci.nih.gov/projects/fhh.
The Surgeon General's new My Family Health Portrait tool is located at https://familyhistory.hhs.gov. A presentation of sample risk assessment tools under development can be viewed at http://videocast.nih.gov/summary.asp?live=7297.