Sue Murphy, Chief Experience Officer at University of Chicago Medicine, was one of three Vocera customers who were featured speakers at HIMSS18. She talked about how she and her team transformed the patient experience and the impact that’s had on the lives of their patients. People were in tears as they listened to her.
After Sue spoke, a woman from the audience came up to her and said, “My mother passed away recently. One of my objectives over the last few months was to identify where it would be best to show her appreciation. My mom’s wish was to set up a nursing scholarship. Your talk has inspired me, and I would like to discuss setting up this scholarship with your health system in honor of the work you are doing to make a positive impact in patient care.”
If I had to pick one thing that stood out for me at HIMSS this year, it was how this attendee’s response underscored not just how our customers have transformed the delivery of care by using our solutions – but the difference that transformation makes to patients, families, and caregivers alike.
I saw a patient-centric focus in the powerful presentations from our other customers as well.
Our customer Tom Stafford, Vice President and CIO at Halifax Health, presented on how Halifax Health is reducing bottlenecks of waiting patients in the emergency department. He talked about how they are improving patient care through timely notification about early sepsis risk intervention.
Dr. Sean Spina, Pharmacy Clinical Coordinator at Island Health, talked about how he and his team enabled physicians to respond faster to care team and patient needs, and improved physician satisfaction, by implementing an award-winning smartphone program.
For this blog post, I asked our Vocera executive team to talk about the major themes they heard in speaking with customers, partners, and investors at HIMSS18.
Our executives are a diverse group, each with a unique perspective on the business. We are pleased to share our observations here.
“It’s not about getting data into the EHR – it’s about getting it out”
Brent Lang, President and CEO
One of the big themes I heard from Vocera customers had to do with getting data out of electronic health records. An interesting line I heard was, “It’s not about getting data into the EHR – it’s about getting it out.”
Hospitals have invested time and money into building electronic health records. Massive amounts of information is captured there but it’s not particularly actionable.
The next wave is about how we pull that data out of the electronic health record, give it to clinicians, and make it actionable so they can impact patient care.
The second theme I observed was an interest in the predictive analytics space. Someone said to me that the basis of competitive advantage in the predictive analytics space is going to be distribution of data.
These two themes tie back to what we’re doing at Vocera in our ability to get the data out to the right person to be able to take action with it.
Automating sepsis risk alerts is the classic case where hospitals have this engine that takes all the situational data and works to predict who’s going to have sepsis. And then they send it to the Vocera Platform as the “last mile” of the solution.
Information does nobody any good if it’s stuck in the system
Benjamin Kanter, M.D., Chief Medical Information Officer
What came up over and over again was how impressed folks were with the integration of the rules engine from the old Extension product into Vocera Collaboration Suite. Our ability to integrate information from different sources into clinical workflows and turn that data into actionable information by aggregating it, writing rules around it, and then pushing out the information to clinicians resonated from both a clinical standpoint and an administrative operational standpoint.
Information does nobody any good if it’s stuck within the system. So, whether it is information about a possibly septic patient or about a room that needs cleaning, that information has value only if it’s actually pushed or messaged to somebody.
None of these concepts, individually, are new for the CIOs or CMIOs I spoke with. They’re just not used to seeing it all in one platform.
“What are you doing for the patient?”
Rhonda Collins, Chief Nursing Officer
For me, the recurring theme was being asked many times the same question I hear from every single customer I ever speak with. That question is, “What are you doing for the patient?”
I was delighted to be able to answer by saying that with our new enhancements to Vocera Collaboration Suite, everything is centered on the patient: All conversations, all treatment, all alerts, all management of the information.
Clinicians can now be immediately aware of the circumstances and context around the patient and of the information that needs to be known. Whether it’s an alert or alarm, or an urgent communication between caregivers, the information is filtered and prioritized, and available in near real-time.
A strategic imperative, and where do I start?
Paul Johnson, Executive Vice President, Sales and Services
What jumped out at me is we had more C-Suite officers visiting our booth than in the past, and the reason for that is they are starting to see the strategic benefits of our platform.
Improving communication and workflow has become a strategic imperative and they view Vocera as relevant to that.
I also observed that customers were trying to understand how to get started. They sat in our booth and engaged with our demos and were quite impressed. The overarching sense of their reaction was, “Wow, Vocera has this comprehensive solution. Where do I start?”
A complete platform, an enterprise solution
Kelly Bechtel, Vice President, North American Sales
I’ve been to about 15 HIMSS over the years. This is the first time I felt people were actively seeking out Vocera. They wanted to set up meetings and specifically talk about what we can do for them.
I heard a lot of buzz and positive energy from customers about the Engage acquisition and what it’s bringing to our offerings from the enterprise perspective. We have many hundreds of customers and now they’re looking at us for more than just using the hands-free Vocera Badge in the operating room or the emergency department. They’re seeing us as a complete platform, as an enterprise solution.
I also heard a ton of buzz around AI and where that’s going in the future. Hospitals are looking for any way to improve operational efficiency, to move people through, to keep revenues up. I feel AI is going to play a part in that going forward.
Acceptance of the cloud in healthcare
Arun Mirchandani, Senior Vice President of Research and Development
My big takeaway from HIMSS is that the industry seems to have turned a corner in accepting the use of cloud in healthcare.
More and more CIOs are now feeling they need to move their applications and infrastructure to the cloud. They need to shift their effort toward working on things that would solve problems for clinicians and patients rather than the business of maintaining their own data centers.
I had a lot of conversations with customers about our strategy with regard to the cloud. At Vocera, we have been supporting a cloud-based secure texting app for three years now. Our team understands how to maintain and develop key capabilities in the cloud. We understand the technologies involved and have partnerships with many other cloud providers like Amazon.
“We want fewer vendors”
Todd Plesko, Vice President of Product Strategy
The scalability of an enterprise approach compared to a best-of-breed approach was the big theme I heard consistently.
Every customer I talked to said, “We want fewer vendors. We’re taking a more standardization approach to our hospitals. We want everyone using the same things, we want them using the same systems. We’ve realized best-of-breed is too expensive.”
If the customer is in a hospital system, I’m hearing pretty clearly, “We have four different messaging solutions and none of them work with each other, they’re just islands.”
We have reached the point in Gartner’s Hype cycle where disillusionment is truly setting in with point solutions in health care. A smaller company will check one important box. Customers are finding that doesn’t work well because it’s never about just one box.
At Vocera, our strategy is to be deep and wide – all things clinical communication and collaboration for all personas, for all locations. It’s no longer just about the nurse in the hospital, it is very much about the physician, about administrative workers, about the entire continuum of care, the entire continuum of communication, the entire continuum of roles and personas.
Hospital communication is a cultural issue
Justin Spencer, Chief Financial Officer
My interactions at HIMSS18 were primarily with investors and analysts. We hosted the investor breakfast, where Parkland Health & Hospital System was our marquee customer.
Listening to our customer speak brought home for me that Vocera technology is embedded deeply in Parkland’s clinical process and workflow, and in their cultural fabric as a company.
The way companies communicate – the way workers communicate with one another – is a cultural issue. It’s rewarding to hear that our solution can become that critical. It also represents an opportunity and a responsibility that we have to continue to provide an outstanding solution and to innovate and make it even better over time.
Predictive Analytics, AI, and Innovation
Rob Born, Vice President, Business and Corporate Development
In speaking with customers, I saw a shared belief that predictive analytics and AI will be important elements in the real-time hospital and intelligent hospital going forward. I also saw recognition that the market is still in the early stages of evolving and vendors are still trying to identify what the most valuable use cases are.
I left HIMSS feeling more hopeful than I’ve ever been that healthcare will finally start to catch up with other sectors that have truly adopted next generation technologies, whether it’s retail, banking, travel, etc. A lot of innovation is happening. Even some of the larger companies are embracing newer technologies.
Over the next five years, we’re going to see more innovation in this sector and more next-generation technologies making it into live customer deployments than we’ve seen in the last 20 years combined.
I think we’re at a really exciting time for healthcare.