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My Family Health Portrait Offering

The U.S. Surgeon General Regina M. Benjamin announced a collaboration with Microsoft HealthVault that will provide new features and expand access to My Family Health Portrait, a free Internet-based resource. This resource enables consumers to easily record their family health history and integrate the information stored in their My Family Health Portrait profile into a personal HealthVault account. In addition, these users will also be able to share that information with a variety of health care providers and services that connect to HealthVault, enabling them to make more informed decisions around their current and future healthcare needs. In the coming months, My Family Health Portrait will expand its offering to other third-party health solutions.

My Family Health Portrait automatically assembles the information into a medically useful format, which can be shared with health care practitioners as well as other family members. A patient's family health history will enable health care providers to make personalized recommendations for his or her health care.

The Surgeon General's Family Health History Initiative is a collaborative initiative supported by agencies of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). HealthVault is a personal health application platform that allows consumers to collect and store their health information online, in a record that can be shared with physicians, family members, pharmacists and a variety of third-party health services.

"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," said Dr. Benjamin. "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."

“We share the Surgeon General’s goal of empowering people to become active partners in their own health and have developed HealthVault with that end-goal in mind,” said David Cerino, general manager, Microsoft Health Solutions Group. “Family history can play a pivotal role in an individual’s current and future health care needs. By connecting My Family Health Portrait to HealthVault, consumers can build a complete profile of their personal health information and then work with their healthcare professionals and connected Web sites, applications and devices to make more informed decisions about their health and wellness.”

My Family Health Portrait allows users to assemble their family health information without retaining their personal information. Consumers using HealthVault decide what information is stored and shared. Privacy and security are top priorities for HHS and its arrangements with third-party health solutions, such as Microsoft HealthVault. Stringent security measures are required to ensure that the user’s information is protected.

My Family Health Portrait is hosted by the Cancer Biomedical Informatics Grid (caBIG®) at the National Cancer Institute, National Institutes of Health (NIH). The upgrade of the portal was also supported by the National Human Genome Research Institute and the National Cancer Institute at National Institutes of Health (NIH), Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ), The Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA), the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), and the Indian Health Service (IHS). For access to My Family Health Portrait, visit For more information about The Surgeon General’s Family Health History Initiative visit

About Microsoft HealthVault:

Microsoft HealthVault is a personal health application platform designed to put consumers in control of their health information. HealthVault provides a privacy- and security-enhanced foundation on which a broad ecosystem of providers can build innovative health and wellness solutions such as personal health records, disease management, fitness, weight loss and other Web applications. HealthVault can be used to collect and store health information that would otherwise reside in disparate systems and transfer the information between a variety of providers’ health services and systems. It enables the reuse and free flow of interoperable and transportable personal health information. For more information, visit

My Family Health -


My Family Health Portrait was originally developed in collaboration between the Office of the Surgeon General and the National Human Genome Research Institute, a part of the National Institutes of Health, Department of Health and Human Services. The first version of My Family Health Portrait was released in November 2004 as downloadable computer software. However, it ran only on computers using the Windows operating system, a significant disadvantage to users of Macintosh (Mac) operating systems.

In November 2005, the tool was released in a web-based version that uses an Internet browser on a user's personal computer. No software is downloaded to the user's personal computer, so the tool now works on a computer using the Macintosh operating system as well as a computer using the Windows operating system. The only requirement is that the user have an up-to-date version of their browser software, which is widely available from multiple sources. The software for My Family Health Portrait was tested in current versions of Internet Explorer for Windows, Firefox for Windows and Mac, Netscape for Windows and Mac and Safari for Mac.

In January 2009, the tool was re-architected and modified in the following ways:

  • Standards-based: Leveraging work done by the American Health Information Community (AHIC), both technical and core data standards have been built into the FHH 2.0 design. This means an increase in interoperability and a diminished learning curve for consumers, practitioners and researchers.
  • Shareable: Information can be electronically shared by the consumer with family members and healthcare providers. This new feature allows consumers to collaborate with family electronically to develop a more robust family health history record.
  • EHR-Ready: Version 2.0 produces xml files that can be easily integrated into existing EHRs with little customization or IT support needed. It's as simple as copying an electronic file from one location into a new system.
  • Customizable: The tool can be downloaded for adoption under an organization's own brand. It is intended to be easily adaptable into patient care portals, thus allowing healthcare organizations to promote family health history taking under their own brand, use it within their own secure environment, and contribute to comprehensive "one-stop-shopping" online patient service portal.