January 13, 2009 By News Report
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services today 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. It can also help practitioners make better use of health history information so they can provide more informed and personalized care for their patients.
"This valuable tool can put family histories to work to improve patient well-being and the quality of care," 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."
"Family history has always been an important part of good health care, but it has been underused," said Acting Surgeon General Steven Galson, a rear admiral in the U.S. Public Health Service. "Today, with our growing knowledge of genetics, family history is becoming even more important. The new tool will help consumers and clinicians alike. It will also serve as a platform for developing new risk assessment software that will help in screening and prevention of cancer, heart disease, diabetes, and other conditions."
Key features of the new version of the Surgeon General's My Family Health Portrait include:
The first adopter of the HHS-developed tool is the National Institute of Genomic Medicine of Mexico (INMEGEN). Dr. Gerardo Jimenez-Sanchez, director general of the institute, will release the Mexican Spanish-language version of the tool in Mexico City this month. The Mexican family health history tool will be available on the INMEGEN Web site.
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