Sanitas, a San Diego health IT startup operating a social networking system for the chronically ill, is rolling out free online program today that is intended to help ordinary people predict their future health risks.
The system, called Family Healthware, uses personal and family health histories to identify a user’s genetic predisposition to chronic health conditions, such as diabetes, stroke, and cancer. The system also provides a personalized prevention plan that recommends lifestyle changes and medical screenings that can help people minimize their future health risks.
“The real push in this country should be for prevention,” Sanitas founder Naser Partovi told me by telephone yesterday. Because it is so difficult to control medical costs after a person becomes chronically ill, “the patients benefit and the whole healthcare system benefits” when people take active steps to avoid the lifestyle choices that increase their odds for chronic disease.
The Web-based system was developed and tested by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, and is operated by Sanitas as a free service. Users fill out a quick, easy-to-use questionnaire and submit medical screenings to build their personal health history. By including the medical history of first- and second-degree relatives, users can build out a family health history that helps determine their overall health risk.
“The more people in your family who complete it, the more accurate and predictive it can be,” Partovi said. “The goal is to enable people to figure out their own risks for chronic disease, as well as the risks for your children. If they’re at risk for colon cancer, for example, they can get regular genetic tests done to screen for that.”
Sanitas plans to eventually integrate the Family Healthware software with Wellaho, the social media healthcare support system that was introduced almost two years ago. Wellaho provides a HIPAA-compliant social media network for chronically ill patients. The encrypted system ensures patient privacy while also enabling each patient to create a Facebook-like home page that can be shared with caregivers, friends, family, spiritual advisors, and other patients.
“Combining these two tools will help us get into this new field called population health management,” and provide the technology to Accountable Care Organizations, Partovi said.
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