Family HealthLink: A Health Risk Assessment Tool

An online interactive tool that helps a patients and physicians assess a likelihood of cancer or heart disease, based on family history.

The Need

Physician documentation of family history in the EPIC® EMR for breast and ovarian cancer has been a common practice for many years, but documentation and assessment for other cancer types (and extended family history) have remained sparse and incomplete (Sweet, Sturm et al. 2015). In addition to sporadic documentation of cancer history, there were also poor records for family history of coronary heart disease.

The Technology

Family HealthLink® was launched online in 2008 and incorporated into patient registration procedures at the James Stefanie Spielman Comprehensive Breast Cancer Center (SSCBC) at Ohio State University in 2012. More than 25,000 online users and about 4,000 patient users have provided information through the interactive tool. Following patient consent, data is actively used in treatment decisions as well as in research projects conducted in the Department of Health Genetics at OSU. In a cohort of 2,664 individuals assessed by FHL, the percentage meeting high-risk criteria for referral to genetics were: cancer, 22.9%; CHD, 22.4%; 9.1% for both diseases. These risk stratification percentages were comparable for SSCBC patient users: cancer, 22.1%; CHD, 22.6%; 8.2% for both diseases. Of 142 assignments seen in genetics, 130 (91.5%) were corroborated. Thirty-six James patients underwent genetic testing, and for 17 (47.2%) of these patients, new molecular diagnoses were recognized (Sweet, Sturm et al. 2015).


Family HealthLink® is the only family history risk assessment web-based interactive tool that evaluates risk for more than 100 common and rare hereditary cancer syndromes and heart diseases.

Commercial Applications

  • Hospitals and health centers
  • Cancer and heart disease diagnosis
  • Genetic assessment and counseling


  • Provides a way to obtain genetic risk of cancer and heart disease without testing
  • Provides information for physicians to increase the accuracy of their diagnosis

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