National Conference on Electronic Health Records To Be Hosted by WFU Translational Science Institute

August 27, 2008

WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. – The Wake Forest University Translational Science Institute, which supports translational research at Wake Forest University School of Medicine, will host a national conference this fall to assess best current practices as well as future directions of electronic health records (EHRs). Translational research “translates” scientific discoveries made in laboratory, clinical, or population studies into actual medical applications to improve patient outcomes and public health in general.

The adoption of EHRs is emerging as an issue of national importance. A June report in The New England Journal of Medicine, as reported by The New York Times, “found that doctors who use electronic health records say overwhelmingly that such records have helped improve the quality and timeliness of care. Yet fewer than one in five of the nation’s doctors has started using such records.”

One of the organizers of the conference, Peter Santago, Ph.D., chair of the Department of Biomedical Engineering, confirmed this report. “The ability of technology to improve efficiency is well known,” he said. “But the U.S. has been slow to adopt an integrated electronic health record, which would allow physicians and researchers to improve monitoring and treating all patients – in rural as well as urban areas.

“This conference brings together some of the best people working on the electronic health record. It provides a great opportunity to hear about the latest developments and best solutions for a broader, more effective use of the electronic health record to benefit patients everywhere.”

The conference, “The Electronic Health Record: Best Practices and New Horizons,” is designed for clinicians, health care administrators, health information officers and health outcomes researchers. The keynote speaker is Clement J. McDonald, M.D., director of the Lister Hill National Center for Biomedical Communications at the National Library of Medicine. The 15 other presenters include faculty and representatives from Vanderbilt University, the U.S. Department of Defense, Harvard Medical School, CareSpark (a southern Appalachian e-health information network) and Wake Forest University School of Medicine, as well as IBM, Microsoft, and SAS, the sponsors for the event.

Topics include the challenges with EHRs, including the history behind their development, methods to incorporate new types of data into EHRs, the use of EHRs as a population outcomes research tool, efforts to link electronic systems, and ways to forge the future direction of an optimal electronic health record. A special focus will be the legal and ethical issues regarding use of personalized health information, including genomics data.

Attendees will have ample occasion throughout the conference to interact with speakers and other participants.

The conference will be held Oct. 1-3, 2008, at the Graylyn International Conference Center, Winston-Salem, NC. For further information, see the website at


Media Contacts: Robin Brantley, (336) 716-7334,; or Mark Wright, (336) 716-3382,; Bonnie Davis, (336) 716-4977,; Shannon Koontz, (336) 716-2415,

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