Surgeon general collaborates with Microsoft for online e-record management

Partnership links Family History Initiative to HealthVault

The Office of the U.S. Surgeon General is expanding its 6-year-old Family History Initiative online tool for consumers to allow for a link to Microsoft’s HealthVault Personal Health Record online application.

U.S. Surgeon General Regina Benjamin said in a news release dated Feb. 24 that the collaboration will allow for new features and expanded access to both programs. Benjamin said she intends to set up collaborations with other third-party providers as well in the coming months, she said.

The Family History Initiative was initially launched on the Web in 2004, and the updated version includes a downloadable application called My Family Health Portrait. The application allows individuals to supply information about family history of diabetes, heart disease, sickle cell anemia and other genetically related conditions and diseases. The information is organized into a meaningful and usable format that can be printed out and given to doctors to assist in diagnosis and treatment.

Microsoft’s HealthVault is an online personal health record system. Consumers voluntarily choose to establish such accounts as a central electronic repository for their personal health records.

Under the collaboration with Microsoft, consumers will be able to integrate the information stored in their surgeon general’s family history portrait into a HealthVault personal health record account. The consumers also will be able to share that information with a variety of providers that connect to HealthVault.

“This announcement is an important advancement in primary care and disease prevention by making family health history data available and accessible to consumers and practitioners,” Benjamin said in the release. “This new collaboration with HealthVault is part of a broader initiative and one of many third-party solutions that will expand the capability of My Family Health Portrait to help individuals make knowledgeable health decisions with their doctors.”

By connecting My Family Health Portrait to HealthVault, consumers can build a comprehensive profile of their personal health information and family health history and share that information with doctors, hospitals, services and other applications and devices. Both applications have privacy and security measures to safeguard the information.

My Family Health Portrait is also hosted by the Cancer Biomedical Informatics Grid at the National Cancer Institute. Several other agencies within the Health and Human Services Department also support the project.

About the Author

Alice Lipowicz is a staff writer covering government 2.0, homeland security and other IT policies for Federal Computer Week.

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