Amid attendance woes, TEPR names award winners, looks to the future

By Eric Wicklund
11:03 AM

Amid perfect weather but less-than-perfect attendance, the Medical records Institute's Towards the Electronic Patient Record (TEPR+) conference kicked off Monday with the announcement of two annual award winners.

Private Access, Inc., an Irvine, Calif.-based provider of Web-based solutions designed to help healthcare consumers access medical information and control who sees their records, was named the winner of TEPR's "Hot Products" competition for its PrivacyLayer, RecruitSource and TrialsFinder products. The runner-up announcement featured a tie between Doctations, a Garden City, N.Y.-based developer of online medical records, and ImageTrend, Inc. of Lakeville, Minn. for its TapChart EMS data collection tool.

The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs was named TEPR's "Best PHRs" award winner for its MyHealtheVet product. Coming in second place was CapMed, a subsidiary of Milwaukee-based Metavante; while Doctations was named the third-place winner.

The awards were named during Monday's opening session at the Palm Springs Convention Center. Claudia Tessier, MRI's vice president, pointed out prior to the announcement that attendance at this year's 25th annual event is "well over 700," which is well under the 2,000 that MRI officials had hoped to attract.

Tessier said attendance "is not where we've been in the past," and added that the nation's troubled economy may have caused some people to curtail their travel plans. She pointed out, though, that the conference, which is scheduled to run through Wednesday, is "cost-conscious but rich in content."

MRI officials had hoped to rejuvenate the flagging show and conference by focusing on new trends in healthcare IT - namely, the patient-centered medical home, emergency services, confidentiality and privacy concerns and mobile devices. On Sunday, they announced the formation of the mHealth Initiative, a Boston-based, non-profit advocacy group designed to advance the use of health applications through mobile devices, or mDevices.

Speaking before an opening session crowd of about 200 people Monday, MRI CEO C. Peter Waegemann said mobile phones, the so-called "forbidden gadgets of the past few years," would be at the forefront of the healthcare IT movement this year, becoming "the most prized possessions of physicians." He pointed out that more than 120 companies have developed mHealth products, and that number will grow with physician acceptance of such devices.

"It's a very exciting time," he said.

Waegemann also opined that healthcare IT would venture further into the realm of financial services as the healthcare industry struggles to maintain balance in the current economy.

"We cannot focus on electronic medical records without looking at the financial system," he said, listing such uses as real-time transactions, payment incentives and charge capture without codes.