HHS unveils family health history software

HHS unveils family health history software

The Health and Human Services Department is offering free software to help Americans learn their families’ health histories and promote personal health.

"With this new family health history tool we are entering the next generation of prevention," HHS secretary Tommy Thompson said. "In addition to healthy eating and exercising, we know that technology and research can also prevent and treat disease before the disease becomes debilitating.”

The effort is as part of the Surgeon General's Family Health Initiative. Using the My Family Health Portrait software, a person can create a health information printout that can be taken to a health care. All personal information entered into the program is maintained on the user's computer only; no information is available to the federal government or any other agency.

“Millions of dollars in medical research, equipment and knowledge can't give us the information that this simple tool can,” said Dr. Richard Carmona, the surgeon general. A health care professional equipped with a patient's family health history can assess inherent risk factors and begin tests or treatment even before a disease is evident, he said.

The software guides users through a series of screens that help them compile information for each family member about common diseases such as heart disease and cancer. Users can also add conditions not on the list.

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