HHS and the Surgeon General's Office reintroduced what they described as an updated and improved version of a Web-based tool for individuals and families to create their own health histories while HHS also announced the launch of its Medicare personal health-record pilot for Medicare beneficiaries in Arizona and Utah.
The surgeon general first developed the family history tool, called My Family Health Portrait, in 2004 with help from the Indian Health Service, according to a news release.
Individuals can choose from a list of ailments and diseases and can forward copies of the history to various family members for verification and additions. The tool allows individuals and families to graph their family tree that includes the diagnoses of each family member.
While the software that compiles the history is hosted at the National Cancer Institute and the history itself is created online, the final work can be downloaded to an individuals own computer. The government says it does not retain copies of the health histories. The source code for the tool is openly available for others to adopt and customize and can be downloaded here.
Robert Kolodner, head of the Office of the National Coordinator, and Rear Adm. Steven Galson, acting surgeon general, launched the family history tool during an online news conference.
Kolodner said a hallmark of the new version is that it incorporates the health information standards, the Continuity of Care Document, that enables patients to send their family health histories to their doctors electronic health-record systems. It really shows that we can move from theoretical standards to real-world products that are consumer-centric, Kolodner said.
HHS Deputy Secretary Tevi Troy hosted a conference in Salt Lake City to kick off the PHR pilot. HHS announced the one-year pilot in November 2008.