Saturday, February 20, 2016

Family Health History: TapGenes

When the possibility of DNA testing for identifying possible health issues is raised, a sizable segment of the medical community responds that such testing is unnecessary because a family health history is more useful. Fortunately, I believe the number of practitioners espousing this belief is diminishing. Actually, it’s not either/or. Genetic testing should be part of a comprehensive family health history.

Those of us who have been serious family historians for a while, recognize that we rarely have a complete health history of three or more generations of our family. Even if we have been able to collect death certificates for our parents, grandparents and great-grandparents (along with their siblings), really don’t have detailed information upon which medical diagnoses can be based. Some of our relatives died in wars, childbirth, epidemics or other causes before their underlying health conditions manifested themselves. In addition, many the causes of demise listed on many death certificates are too vague to add much guidance to present day diagnoses. Most patients, when asked to fill out family health histories in a clinician’s office, have far less reliable information than those of us who are genealogists.

DNA testing, even if is of whole genomes, also represents other challenges. Many medical practitioners are not knowledgeable about DNA and may feel threatened to admit this to their patients. This avenue to information within our bodies was not available when most of them received their professional training. Much as we might wish it were the case, DNA testing cannot provide information on all the causes of our current or future states of health. Environmental factors still contribute significantly.  The long running “nature” versus “nurture” debate rages on.

Part of RootsTech 2016, which I attended earlier this month, was an Innovator Showdown competition for a prize pot of $100,000. An international field of 46 competitors was narrowed to 12 prior to the conference. At the Media Dinner on Wednesday, that group was narrowed to 6 finalists. On Friday these remaining competitors were interviewed before thousands of attendees. The panel of judges then selected the winners with participation of the audience who voted on their smartphones. First place went to TapGenes. The winners received $20,000 in cash and additional in kind awards that more than doubled that amount.   

Yes, the eagle eyes of some readers have identified Judy Russell, The Legal Genealogist, seated in the lower left background, who was a member of the distinguished panel of judges.

TapGenes offers you the convenience of keeping all your family health history in one safe and secure place.
A visit to the TapGenes website will explain what this prizewinning app has to offer you and your family. If you wish to signup right away please use this link.