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2018 Azara Healthcare User Conference Recap

The 2018 Azara User Conference has come to a close and what a week it was!  Nearly 250 users of Azara DRVS and friends of Azara assembled in Boston the week of April 30th to network, learn and find ways to maximize the value of their investment in DRVS to better serve their patients.  We were honored to have close to 80 Community Health Centers, 15 Primary Care Associations and HCCN’s from 20 states in attendance this year.  While our friends from the Waianae Coast Comprehensive Health Center in Hawaii traveled the furthest, the Alaska Primary Care Association and its membership accounted for the most miles traveled in total by a group.  Of course, that’s not to make light of the efforts of the large contingent of Azara users from Massachusetts and New York who joined us.

Monday represented a new direction for the Annual User Conference, with the addition of a one-day pre-conference, hands-on workshop.  Teams from 35 organizations came out early to learn how to better maintain data quality, and build scorecards, registries and dashboards.   IMG_3859Led by Heather Budd and LuAnn Kimker of Azara’s Client Success team, and backed by members of the Azara product, implementation and support teams, the group covered the importance of establishing an on-going calendar for data validation and delved into advanced tip and tricks to take advantage of all of DRVS’s powerful features.   Client teams left having created dashboards and reports that were relevant to their current projects and with the skills to create many more in the future.  My favorite participant quote was The value of this single trick I learned today was alone worth the trip.”   Look for a version of the workshop to hit the road later this year.

By Monday evening, the hotel was bustling with DRVS Users from around the country and it was a pleasure to greet so many familiar faces.

As I entered the lobby early Tuesday morning I could feel the excitement building. At 9 AM, it was show time and as I walked up to the podium I was humbled and overwhelmed to see nearly 300 people filling the ballroom.  It was standing room only.

I kicked off the conference, welcoming DRVS users from around the county, encouraging them to spend the next two days listening, learning, networking and figuring out ways to maximize the value they derive from Azara DRVS.  I reviewed the goals of the conference which boiled down to improving how each of our clients can use their DRVS data to improve the care they deliver.

After setting out the conference goals, I took a quick stroll down memory lane, highlighting the initial DRVS architecture with PowerPoint diagrams and early screen shots from client #1, Lynn Community Health Center.  I highlighted Azara’s ten-year growth across the US and ended my history by featuring Azara’s current CHCANYS sponsored deployment in New York State, which includes 53 FQHC’s, six participating Health Plans, three Regional Health Information Exchanges and a variety of data partners such as the cities, state agencies and various academic research entities.  I wrapped up the abbreviated history with a short video submitted by Lynn Community Health Center submitted as part of the conference video contest.

Next, I took a minute to update the audience on Azara’s progress and accomplishments over the last year including:

  • 1st User Conference in January 2017
  • Staff Growth
  • Reintroduction of Dashboards
  • Major Expansion of Payer Integration Capabilities including Risk, Cost, Utilization, Members vs. Patients
  • Care Management Passport
  • Controlled Substance Module aimed at helping FQHC’s address the Opioid Crisis
  • NCQA Pre-Validation
  • HITRUST CSF Certification Audit
  • 250 Live Client Sites across 25 states encompassing data on 24M lives
  • $2,500,000+ of R&D investment in DRVS

I then reviewed the state of the analytics market, reiterating the importance of data and how it relates to addressing three of Secretary Azar’s four key objectives for the US Healthcare System - Affordability, Shift to Value and the Opioid Crisis.

Lastly, I tied up the welcome by outlining Azara’s key objectives and our commitment to our clients.

Azara Objectives

  1. Be our clients primary data & analytics platform
  2. Continue to deliver health center focused solutions
  3. Provide the full suite of reporting & analytics that our clients need

Our Client Commitment

  • Remain focused on serving health centers and safety-net providers
  • Meet the needs of health centers entering risk and value-based payment arrangements
  • Continue investments in product and infrastructure
  • Listen to and incorporate your feedback
  • Foster cooperation between health centers, networks, and PCA’s
  • Build partnerships that enhance our capabilities to meet your needs
  • Be your partner for the long haul
  • Enable DRVS to make a difference in the care you deliver to your patients!

Tuesday’s keynote speaker was Dr. Suma Nair, the Director, Office of Quality Improvement at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Bureau of Primary Health Care who leads many of HRSA’s data and quality efforts relating to Federally Qualified Health Centers.IMG_4064

Suma provided a bit of history and perspective on the use of data within the Health Center Quality program and the investments they have made in infrastructure over the past 10+ years. She showcased some of the major FQHC accomplishments and quality improvement statistics, then outlined what she considered the road ahead from the Bureau’s perspective:

Increasing Focus on Value and Impact

  • Health Care Delivery System
    • Managed Care
    • Accountable Care
    • Alternative Payment Methodologies
  • Community-wide
    • Community Centered Health Homes
    • Accountable Health Communities

Suma outlined the three strategic goals of the Bureau of Primary Healthcare as:

  1. Increase Access to Primary Health Care
  2. Advance Health Center Quality
  3. Impact and Optimize BPHC Operations

Suma also discussed HRSA’s four Clinical Priorities:

  • Opioids and Substance Use Disorder
  • Mental Health Services
  • Childhood Obesity
  • Diabetes

She took time to explain the role of data in these efforts and some potential implementation strategies and partnerships that will likely be necessary to achieve the program goals.

Finally, Suma took a few moments to cover everyone’s favorite subject, UDS, reviewing the state of the UDS Modernization Initiatives, content updates and contemplated measure modifications, and the timeline for the near team changes.  I am grateful for Suma’s willingness to speak to the Azara Users and feel it is critical that Azara is able to provide the reporting necessary to allow our clients to meet and exceed the expectations of HRSA.

Next, Greg Augustine, Azara’s Chief Operating Officer provided a product update.

Following on the heels of Suma’s presentation, Greg first reviewed Azara’s readiness for UDS 2018.  He then outlined the areas that Azara has focused on over the past year.

  • Introduced more than 125 new measures
  • Overhauled Dashboard functionality
  • Next iteration of Referral Management Module
  • New modules for Payer Integration, Transitions of Care and Controlled Substance Management
  • Enhanced the Pre-Visit Planning (PVP) Report
  • Rolled out a single patient report known as the Care Management Passport (CMP)
  • Improved Transparency of Measure Calculations, Mapping Administration and Validation tools, including the Measure Investigation Tool (MIT)
  • Integrated with Health Information Exchanges for Admit/Discharge data
  • Added 10 new PCMH Measures and Achieved PCMH Prevalidation
  • Enabled the ability to capture and report Social Determinants of Health (SDOH)
  • Enhanced capability around OB Episodes
  • Panel Management & Provider Continuity Reports
  • Visualization, Cohorts and Email Scheduling

Lastly, Greg outlined the areas of focus for our development team over the next 12 months including:

  • More Payer Integration Reports
  • Emailing of Dashboards
  • New Care Management Application
  • Enhanced Security – e.g., 2 Factor Authentication
  • Home Page as a Dashboard
  • Data Health and Data Quality Reporting
  • Follow-up on Open Orders (e.g., FIT)
  • Risk Stratification – More Options

Following Greg’s product update, our attendees had the opportunity to attend one-hour breakout sessions across a variety of topics including:

  1. DRVS Tips and Tricks*
  2. DRVS Care Delivery Tools: Visit Planning and Care Management Passport (Panel) *
  3. Payer Rosters in DRVS: Enrollment and Member Matching*
  4. Illustrating Non-Medical Complexity with PRAPARE and SDOH (Panel)
  5. The Opioid Epidemic: Monitoring and Managing Controlled Substance Use (Panel)

IMG_4358After an afternoon of breakout sessions, the group reconvened to a panel discussion where health center and PCA/HCCN staff from NY and MA answered questions on the keys to successfully partnering and collaborating around data and quality initiatives using DRVS.

Lastly, I tied up day one by presenting a few well deserved client awards and previewing client videos from Community Health of Northwest Florida and Fordland Clinic from Missouri before everyone adjourned for a lively networking session.

Day two featured Dr. Jonathan Gruber, The Ford Professor of Economics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and one of the architects of both the Massachusetts Health Reform and the Affordable Care Act (ACA).  Dr. Gruber provided his perspectives on the success and the state of the ACA and how he sees things unfolding over the next few years.  He cited a variety of examples of new payment models being explored, the lack of meaningful savings in many of the ACO pilots and he encouraged our audience to keep testing new models of value-based care, as he is convinced that there are workable solutions to be identified and replicated.

Following Dr. Gruber (a hard act to follow), Heather Budd, Azara’s Vice President of Clinical Transformation, outlined some of the basics of care management including its definition and role. She also summarized what Azara has been hearing from its clients and our perspective on care management including:

  • Single comprehensive solution; addresses business and patient care aspects
  • Little or no duplicate entry; leverage EHR data
  • Avoid capture of medical record data outside the EHR
  • Ability to manage individuals and populations of patients
  • Leverage existing DRVS data, reports, visualization
  • Slice and dice panels of patients
  • Manage and prioritize tasks, plan ahead
  • Capacity for integration of other data sources
  • Track and manage payer and ACO contracted patient cohorts

Heather then kicked off a panel discussion on care management with input from Janette Keddy, Director of Performance Improvement at South Boston Community Health Center and Rose Little, Director of Quality Improvement at Cornerstone Family Health.  The session culminated with Greg Augustine providing a preview of Azara’s new Care Management application slated for release later this year.

Following the Care Management session, our attendees again had the opportunity to attend one-hour breakout sessions on:

  1. Understanding and Troubleshooting Measures
  2. Payer Claims and Cost Integration for Contract and
    Incentive Management
  3. Network and PCA State Program Strategy and Quality Session
  4. Operations Reports 101
  5. Client Feedback
  6. Risk Algorithms for Predictive and Pragmatic Population Health Management

As quickly as it started, Wednesday afternoon came before we knew it.  I used the closing session to recognize the three health centers that created video submissions. All three health centers, Lynn Community Health Center, Community Health Northwest Florida, and Fordland Clinic will receive a staff lunch courtesy of Azara. The Grand Prize winner, Fordland Clinic will also receive a complementary seat to next year’s Azara User Conference.   I closed the conference by reiterating Azara’s commitment to the health center market and thanked our panelists, presenters, Azara staff and most importantly, our clients for making the conference a great experience.  We look forward to seeing everyone again next year!