Quick TEPR report

PALM SPRINGS, Calif.—I’m tired and ragged from finishing up something that could have a huge bearing on my future while also covering TEPR+. I now understand that the “plus” is because the conference has expanded its scope from “Towards an Electronic Patient Record” to include mobile health and interoperability. To this end, the Medical Records Institute formed a new 501(c)(3) called the mHealth Initiative, which is totally unrelated to the eHealth Initiative.

The mHealth Initiative is headed by MRI vice president Claudia Tessier, former executive director of a previous MRI project called the Mobile Health Care Alliance (MoHCA). The new organization, which will pick up the activities of the MRI’s Center for Cell Phone Applications in Healthcare (C-PAHC), has a workshop planned for March 31 and its first annual conference set for Dec. 9-10. Both events will take place in Boston. Additional workshops will be scheduled for June and September.

Other than the added focus on mobile health, there really is nothing “plus” about this, the 25th edition of TEPR. The organizers tell me that about 750 people have registered, down from 1,200 at last year’s meeting in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., and from a peak of just under 3,000 five years ago. I can’t say that I saw 750 people here, though. I would be surprised if there were more than a couple of hundred people present at the opening session this morning, and the exhibit hall contains just four rows of booths.

Obviously the economy has had a huge bearing on attendance at all kinds of events in recent months, but the decision to meet in a sunny desert resort town may have backfired. After the HIMSS moved its conference to April from February to avoid the brutal Chicago winter weather, the MRI grabbed the open time slot for TEPR instead of waiting until May. But MRI president Peter Waegemann tells me he heard from many people whose bosses vetoed the idea of sending them to Palm Springs at a time when so many others were losing their jobs. Perhaps if TEPR were back in Dallas or Baltimore this year?

I’ll have more later on some actual content from the meeting, including a fascinating proposal from Keas founder Adam Bosworth, late of Google and Microsoft. And, no, I don’t know what Keas actually does. Bosworth plans to announce something in the next month or two.