MyFamilyHealth is a great Web 2.0 health site

The folks at have combined online genealogy, social networking, and basic personal health record management for a single and eminently useful purpose: learning more about your family’s medical history to help improve your own health by better understanding your genetic risks. It will be fascinating to see how people use it over the next few years.

I built my own family history account this morning and found these important benefits:

  • Create a social network of your family members and share your medical history with them. It would be interesting to see if they make a facebook application soon to tie in with other social networking tools.
  • Discover and learn about the health problems that run in your family – including conditions that might not otherwise be considered by your physician.
  • Discover if you or your family members could benefit from specific diagnostic, genetic or screening tests.This is probably the area they are making money so it’s good to see a viable business model.
  • You can share your family health history with your physician and receive better guidance to delay, improve or even prevent bad health. This is a good way to promote the service, too.
  • Although I didn’t try it, they claim they can Import your family tree from genealogy sites like and

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8 thoughts on “MyFamilyHealth is a great Web 2.0 health site

  1. Readers who have an interest in electronic medical records are invited to take a 30-day free trial of our patient record that is very easy to use, easy for doctors to send records to, and very secure. Go to and use the code TRYMMR.
    Scott Smith

  2. I am always amazed how naive people are when yit comes to medical records and data security. Why on earth would I allow a comercial provider access to my very own medical history, the risks of online publishing aside. Could someone please tell me why one the one hand people are afraid to be scrutinized to the bone by official bodies, but when there is a fancy online hype, they hand out their privacy like free candy…

  3. Pingback: Pete Silva

  4. Now I’m sure your intentions were good but I have to wonder about a few things:

    First HIPAA and if Social Networking sites in which I choose to supply with sensitive health information, are covered? HIPAA describes a ‘covered entity’ as

    * a health care provider that conducts certain transactions in electronic form
    (called here a “covered health care provider”).
    * a health care clearinghouse.
    * a health plan

    But at the same time the regulations clarify that facilitation should be of a ‘transaction’, which means, just accepting data and historical information is not a covered transaction under HIPAA and thus not necessarily regulated. However, personally identifiable health information which, if shared, could constitute facilitation of a transaction under HIPAA and thus require the business (site) to comply.

    So a couple questions need to be asked:

    Q1: “Does the business or agency process, or facilitate the processing of, health information from nonstandard format or content into standard format or content or from standard format or content into nonstandard format or content?” Yes.

    Q2:” Does the business or agency perform this function for another legal entity?” Technically, yes as the individual is a legal entity.

    If the site provides the means by which you can designate who can/cannot see the data, that should be enough for HIPAA compliance regardless, as HIPAA defaults to a deny all/whitelist policy for sharing of information. I would think that if these type of sites start integrating (as in Web 2.0) with actual health care providors, then I would think they MUST comply.

    But I’m the one who choose to put it out there in the first place.

    One of the problems I have with your blog is you talks about all the great benefits of putting your health info for the family to see but nothing about the Security of that data or any cautions about the type of data you supply. So I went to check it out.

    Which brings me to issue number two:

    so to logon, it’s http: “email/pw”

    gives you: CERTIFICATE WARNING takes you the same
    look, except is the path. takes me to the same logon, without cert prompt in SSL. Shahid should’ve, especially now, talked a little about the security of the site. Not only holding sensitive info (or at least caution about putting actual prescription numbers in a site like this, along with pharmacy, docs names, etc) Potentially, even the above issue. This re-enforces the bad behavior of users just clicking thru these warnings (see Lori’s blog about FF3 warnings here). Add to that, in IE, you get the; There is a problem with this website’s security certificate error/message & then what? You’ll either be reinforcing bad behavior or driving people AWAY from the site since IE is telling them, ‘do not continue.’

    They say, ‘MyFamilyHealth takes extensive and proactive measures to ensure privacy and
    security,’ but doesn’t even have a https logon. They say that only members of your family tree can see your tree but it’s only http. I’m sure this site is good for consolidating important health info and allowing others to see it but with recent malicious attempts (both successful and not) against Facebook, Myspace and other social sites – do you really want your sensitive health info just ‘out there’ especially when their privacy policy states:

  5. One final concern are the health care/insurance companies themselves ‘reviewing’ these sites to determine of someone is too much of a risk. ‘Oh Sally here says that her family has a history of cancer – she’s too much of a risk, let’s drop her.’

    No thanks.

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