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Could High-Tech Health Record Solutions Lead to Less Expensive Health Care?

A new portable patient health record service -- where patients buy a credit card-sized USB drive that can hold their records for a lifetime -- could revolutionize the industry.

(TNS) -- Imagine if you never had to fill out another patient information form at a doctor's office again.

That's the promise of a new portable patient health record service developed by Boca Raton-based InfoPeHR. For $35, patients can buy a credit card-sized USB drive that can hold their records — including high-resolution medical images — for a lifetime, said InfoPeHR owner Bernard Brigonnet.

"You can be in the middle of Alaska and [doctors] are still going to be able to read all your medical information and add to it," said Brigonnet, former research director for the Carolinas Health System and former president of Merck Serono in France.

Brigonnet is among several South Florida entrepreneurs who are developing high-tech solutions for health record storage, contributing, they hope, to less expensive health care. The companies, which include Boca Raton-based Modernizing Medicine and CareCloud in Miami, are helping to establish South Florida as a hub for health-based technological innovation.

Modernizing Medicine develops custom iPad-based medical records and assistant systems for doctors in specialized fields, such as dermatology. The five-year-old company already has 6,000 customers across the country, said co-founder Dan Cane.

"I'm a big believer that the entrepreneur builds for the needs around them," Cane said. "South Florida is a hotbed for health care and health providers, so you'll see companies that spring up around that ecosystem."

Health-care technology was a focus at last week's eMerge Americas conference in Miami Beach that spotlighted innovative tech startups and "cutting edge ideas." Breakout sessions covered consumerization of health care, future advances in medicine, and ways that health-care companies are sharing patient records and other medical information "without borders."

Rhys Williams, president of Boca Raton-based private investment group New World Angels, said in an interview at eMerge that medical technology could help drive South Florida's effort to become a tech hub.

He pointed to Rotation Manager, a local participant in eMerge's Startup Challenge and recent winner of Florida Atlantic University's business plan competition. The new company has developed technology to manage nursing rotations at hospitals.

"I'm looking for what South Florida does very well," Williams said.

Electronic medical records innovations grew out of the federal government's push for physicians to switch from paper to electronic records. Now, the government is starting to penalize physicians who don't convert by cutting Medicare reimbursements.

Cane said the government's actions during the past four years have "shifted the industry."

"We're now seeing 70 percent to 80 percent adoption in health-care technology," he said.

Other companies are making strides in the market, all with a different niche or strategy.

Cane points to sometime partner and competitor CareCloud, which provides cloud-based practice management and billing as well as electronic health record services for medical groups. Founded in 2009, CareCloud is used by more than 10,000 medical professionals and operates in 48 states.

Coral Springs-based AOD has carved out a niche providing electronic health record systems for senior-living communities. CEO Aric Agmon has said AOD has captured 30 percent of the Florida market and a quarter of the national market.

The electronic health records market is estimated to be around $1.2 billion, and expected to surge by 400 percent in the next eight years, said Palm Beach Gardens-based Weiss Research in a May 5th report. Advances are being driven by health insurance companies that incorporate such technology, the firm says.

Brigonnet is marketing his portable personal health record card first to health insurers. He also plans to approach physician practices and home-health companies.

While working in France, he saw the image compression technology being used and decided it would be a solution for health-care practitioners in the United States, where hundreds of electronic health record systems used different operating systems.

InfoPeHR's technology is compatible with Windows, Mac, Linux and other operating systems, Brigonnet said.

The device can store up to 50,000 diagnostic images so a doctor can access complete medical data about a patient, including X-rays, MRIs, EKGs and any other diagnostic image. Brigonnet said the doctor's office then can easily update the card with new information, uploading patient information from the visit and any new images taken.

Security is a growing issue with medical records technology, especially since the February cyber-attack on health insurer Anthem's system, exposing millions of customers to potential fraud.

The InfoPeHR card is designed to be the patient's property, carried in a credit-card sized USB from doctor to doctor. Brigonnet said the card is encrypted so that if it's lost, the information is still secure.

Because the data is not being stored on the cloud, use of the InfoPeHR card "takes away the liability issue from the health-care provider," he said.

But Cane said he feels more comfortable that Modernizing Medicine operates on a cloud-based system. He said his system has more security measures to protect the patient's medical information than any doctor's office could have.

"What people really should be asking themselves is 'who are the stewards of that data and how careful are they going to be with my information?' " he said.

©2015 the Sun Sentinel (Fort Lauderdale, Fla.). Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.