TapGenes, an application that helps families compile their health information, won the 2016 RootsTech Innovator Summit. Last month, I caught up with CEO Heather Holmes to see what difference a year makes.
(In case you’re wondering, I am not affiliated with TapGenes. I just like the platform. Much of TapGenes is free to use.)
How TapGenes Helps Families Tell their Stories
TapGenes explains that they use “the idea of “crowdsourcing” to help “families create a more complete and accurate family medical history, together.” That little word “together” isn’t an after-thought. As families accumulate information, they have conversations about what they know. Not only does this help inform all members of the family, it also fosters honest conversations, a key to preventing important health topics from getting swept under the rug. (See Why You Should Tell Health Stories)
Despite all the fanfare about genetic testing, the information already known to your family provides crucial information for doctors. Think about it, before you even see a doctor, you fill out forms about your own and family health history. Unfortunately, a lot of us can’t remember everything in that 10 minutes during which scribble on the forms as we wait to see the doctor. The website is HIPAA compliant so it’s a safe way to accumulate data
You can also fill out your own information, then opt to share it with family members. Perhaps knowing that you suffer from borderline-diabetes or anxiety and depression will make other family members more comfortable sharing their own or taking actions to treat those conditions.
Assessing your risk
In addition to assembling family health information, TapGenes wants to help “families connect the dots between their known risks and … discover where they can impact and influence better health. One way they do that is through questionnaires that assist with risk assessment. Throughout these Q&As, TapGenes weaves in advice regarding life-style choices, such as taking multi-vitamins, exercise, and alcohol consumption.
The ability to change the ending of your story
My colon cancer risk assessment surprised me. It also forced me to be honest with myself.
I think of myself as active, but my exercise is on a weekly basis, not daily. Clicking through the friendly interview, I had to admit the multi-vitamins are nearing their expiration date in the kitchen drawer and that the closest I come to taking a vitamin D supplement is using whole vitamin D enriched milk in my coffee. And it didn’t even ask me about that polyp they found at the last colonoscopy and how long it’s been since I had a follow-up.
By making me a little uncomfortable, TapGenes reminds me that I have an opportunity to influence how that story ends.
All of the above is available under TapGenes free subscription. However, their upgraded membership includes unlimited documents and access to their genetic section and pharmacogenetics alerts.
If you’d like to join me in trying that out, Heather is offering TreasureChestofMemories.com readers a 50% discount on the upgraded membership (from $79 to $39 for a one year subscription). After signing up for a free account, use the code (treasurechest50) to get the promotional discount for the premium account.