All Things Data


2019 End of Year Azara Update

Jeff Brandes

Jeff Brandes
CEO & President
Azara Healthcare

As 2019 comes to a close, I wanted to take a moment to reflect on the past year. What a fantastic year it has been! From a geographical standpoint, the Azara team has visited DRVS users, prospects, and partners across nearly every state in the Union. Once again, this has included multiple visits to two states furthest away from Boston, Alaska, and Hawaii. Our team is not just traversing the US; we continue to engage and work closely with clients in 31 of those states plus the District of Columbia.

2019 was extremely exciting for us. Our team grew significantly, and our client base blossomed to more than 400 health centers spread across 7,500+ sites. DRVS has played a role in a variety of national, state, and local programs as well as in the dozens of grants that our customers regularly win. Of all these accomplishments, I most enjoy watching our clients deliver the meaningful (and quantifiable) results that improve care and lower costs across a wide range of domains.

2019 HIGHLIGHTS

User Conference

In late May, nearly 300 DRVS users traveled from as far across the nation to join us at the third Annual Azara DRVS User Conference here in Boston. It was fun and exciting to put faces to names and voices and watch our staff interact with our clients and partners. The agenda was packed full, and we were fortunate to have a large number of outstanding guest and customer presenters. Our three pre-conference workshops were well attended, and our clients had the opportunity to gain more hands-on training across a variety of topics. I most enjoyed watching our clients meet and learn from each other. I continue to be overwhelmed and humbled by the enthusiasm and passion of our customers. We are planning for 350+ people to join us March 31-April 1 here in Boston for the 2020 event. Registration is open at https://azarahealthcare.com/annual-conference-2020/, don’t wait until it’s too late.

Expanded Office Space

In early November, Azara decamped the home we have held since 2013 and relocated to a new, more expansive space on the 1st floor of our existing building. Our team has moved from a cramped office setting patched together piece by piece, new hire by new hire, to a new build-out designed explicitly with lots of natural light and comfortable workspaces. The new office accommodates our continuing growth and allows everyone to maximize their productivity. Our team is now settled in their new digs and we invite you to visit us if you are in the Boston area.

Product Offerings

This year, we significantly increased the capabilities of DRVS. With more clients preparing to enter into value-based contracts, the integration of payer data remains a priority. We continue to roll out new and additional reports for tracking enrollment and attribution and risk stratification, as well as enabling better reconciliation of care gaps between clinical and claims data. It is clear that our clients are moving down this path quickly, and we saw a meaningful increase in the number of clients with access to payer data (enrollment, care gaps, and claims) from their managed care plans.

In 2019, Azara again expanded its role as the “data hub” in a variety of areas. We successfully connected to additional Health Information Exchanges (HIE), bringing to ten the number of HIE’s from whom we are now receiving hospital admit/discharge/transfer information for patients of our FQHC clients. We also took on a much more prominent role in the provision of clinical data to 3rd parties on behalf of our clients, enabling DRVS users to leverage the curated clinical data within DRVS. These 3rd parties included managed care companies, Accountable Care Organizations (ACO’s), and academic medical centers. Look for more exciting news on 3rd party connections in 2020.

In May of 2018, we previewed concepts and wireframes for a new Azara Care Management (ACM) tool, and at this years’ DRVS User Conference, we launched it into the market. ACM leverages all of the data already within DRVS to help clients tackle focused, task-oriented efforts to manage specific high-need/high-risk populations or groups of patients. DRVS customers have received it well, and initial reception and feedback have been very positive. We recognize that many of our clients are just venturing into formalized care management programs and we will continue to invest in the enhancement of this exciting new product so that it will grow and change as your needs mature and evolve.

The other significant effort undertaken by Azara this year was the complete remake of the DRVS User Interface (UI). The existing UI has served us well for the past five and a half years, but we felt it was time to provide a more polished look and feel, as well as payback our technical debts and put us on a robust and scalable front-end platform that could support our client’s needs for the next five years. I want to recognize the Azara staff who put in many extra hours to make this happen in 2019, and I want to thank all of you who took part in our Alpha and Beta testing programs. I am pleased to report that the first group of clients is officially transitioning onto the new interface this week.
Growth
 
In 2019, Azara increased both its client base and its revenue by over 30%, strengthening our balance sheet and assuring we can continue to invest in ongoing innovations.
 
We added fifteen new staff members, enhancing our capabilities and capacity in all areas of our business. We doubled our client success and analytics teams this year and will continue to invest in the resources necessary to ensure our products meet your needs, and our staff has the time to give your projects adequate attention.
 
Grant & Program Involvement
 
Last year, we announced our partnership with Upstream USA and began working closely with them in Washington State. I am happy to report that our work with Upstream is going well in both Washington and Massachusetts, and I expect this relationship will continue to flourish. We also worked with our clients and partners across the country to help them meet the requirements and goals of a variety of grants and programs, including HRSA HCCN funding, CDC Million Hearts, PRAPARE, and the American Cancer Society’s efforts to prevent breast, cervical and colorectal cancers. I am anticipating these initiatives will continue to expand in 2020.
 
Reflections on CHC’s
 
While I am proud to describe Azara’s tremendous progress in 2019, I am also mindful of the challenging environment in which our clients are currently operating. We are working with several clients studying the impact of the “public charge” legislation, and we remain committed to providing you the solutions you need to quantify your success. We recognize that legislative and market pressures stand poised to drastically change the way you are required to care for your patients and how you will get paid for these services. 
 
Closing Thoughts
 
As we wind down 2019, I want to close with just a few essential thoughts:
 
First, I want to take a moment to recognize Ellen Hafer, Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer at the Massachusetts League of Community Health Centers. Ellen is retiring this December after 40+ years of dedicated service to the community health movement. If Azara and DRVS have a founder, Ellen is it. It was her vision that brought DRVS to life as a pilot project for the Mass League in 2008, and her foresight that reporting and data analytics would be a requirement for all health centers to succeed that drove the formation of Azara in 2011. Ellen and the Mass League have been a steadfast partner of ours from day one, and I want to personally thank her for her help, assistance, guidance, “tough love,” mentorship, and, most of all, friendship. When I walked into her office in June of 2010, I didn’t know what a Federally Qualified Health Center was, nor could I recite the hundreds of acronyms that now roll off my tongue. In fact, at that point, I could not explain the difference between Medicare and Medicaid. Ellen, I am humbled by the trust you bestowed in me as the caretaker of DRVS, and we will all continue our efforts to assure it is something you can always be proud to have been a part of. 
 
On the business side, while I feel this year was successful on many fronts, I am even more energized for 2020. The breadth and depth of opportunities that we plan to address with our clients and partners next year are enormous. We look forward to helping you solve new problems and introducing innovative solutions and functionality that can assist you in accomplishing your mission.
 
Next, I expect the heightened awareness around the importance of high-quality data and information in healthcare settings to continue its acceleration. I urge you to look at your data early and often and to find ways to integrate data into your day-to-day operations and delivery of care. A high-performing care team can’t operate to the best of its abilities without useful data.
 
Lastly, on behalf of all of us at Azara, I want to thank you – our clients and partners – for your unwavering support. It is an honor to be able to serve you and your teams as you work tirelessly to assure that no patient – no matter the circumstances – goes without the healthcare services they need. Hopefully, Azara’s assistance in some way helps you better accomplish your mission.
 
We offer our best wishes for a happy holiday season and a healthy and plentiful new year.

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