Wow!! That was my takeaway from our 6th Annual Azara User Conference which took place May 2-4 at the Boston Park Plaza. It was incredible to meet so many Azara users (and staff members) in person for the first time and hear all of the amazing things they are doing with our products. I am proud of the assistance the Azara team provides in helping our health center, provider practice, and network clients make a difference in the care they deliver.
Monday, May 2nd – Pre-Conference Workshops
Monday began bright and early as guests queued up to check in for one of the three pre-conference workshops we offered and grab a light breakfast. The Azara team, led by Kristen Jones and Nancy D’Ercole had been hard at work on Sunday setting up the Boston Park Plaza hotel for our guests. With decorations up (just a few butterflies), signs in place, and three more tables being added to the sold out “Making Your Data Work for You” workshop, we were ready to start the day.
At 10AM, we kicked off our three, pre-conference workshops. In our most popular, DRVS Hands-On Workshop: Making Your Data Work for You, Meg Carley, Kaitlyn Gordon, and myself led users through data hygiene exercises and creating custom registries, scorecards, targets, and dashboards. After we presented the theory behind each topic, the Azara coaches stood by, ready to assist, as users dove into their data and created custom content to bring back to their organizations.
Next door, Leah Dafoulas and Emily Holzman, Directors on our Clinical Transformation team, headed a workshop geared toward network and primary care association users. While the title—Catalyzing Transformation at the Network Level: Creating an Environment for Change—is a mouthful, I know that attendees gained valuable information from both Leah, Emily, and the Azara team, as well as DRVS users from other networks and organizations. Attendees walked away with insights on how DRVS and other Azara tools can be integrated into the ecosystem of a network or large organization, with the ability to use data across a variety of programs, organizations, or locations.
In the third pre-conference workshop, Driving Success in Value Based Care, Greg Augustine, Matt Fusan, LuAnn Kimker, and Phil Parker shared key concepts and actions that lead to success regardless of the type of value-based contract an organization may be part of. They highlighted use cases and success stories from Azara clients and how they integrate EHR, payer, and HIE data to support care management and coordination, and drive quality measure and value-based contract success.
After a brief lunch, workshops reconvened for an afternoon filled with more learning. The group in the Value-Based Care room heard from Crystal Quillan, Patient Engagement and Operations Manager from the Michigan Primary Care Association and Jordan Bann, Quality and Transformative Health Manager from Five Rivers Health Centers on how they use Azara tools to support value-based contracts. In the Catalyzing Transformation session, attendees heard from Jessica Schaner from the Ohio Association of Community Health Centers on how the PCA supports their practices' using DRVS. In the Hands-On Workshop, we played a highly competitive game of Family Feud to recap some of the skills attendees learned.
We wrapped up the day with a networking reception for workshop participants where we got to mingle and meet people we had only seen virtually over the last two years. It was a little bizarre talking with people I had only ever seen as a 4-inch box on my screen. I had many people come up to me and tell me how tall I was compared to what they thought!
Tuesday, May 3rd – Conference Day 1
Jeff Brandes, CEO, President, and fearless leader of Azara, kicked off Tuesday morning, welcoming everyone to Boston for the first time in more than 2 years! The grand ballroom was packed full with almost 400 people hailing from 32 states and representing 115 practices and health centers. After a quick trip down memory lane, Jeff shared some DRVS stats including usage, custom content, and major updates.
Next, Jeff highlighted successes our clients have seen using Azara tools. I love to hear how users integrate data into their workflows and use DRVS to support their work—our success is really measured by your success. If you’d like to share how you are using Azara products in your practice, we’d love to hear from you here!
After reviewing the analytics marketplace and the key drivers of data reporting, Jeff reiterated and emphasized Azara’s commitments to its clients and partners:
- Remaining focused on serving health centers and safety-net providers
- Meeting the needs for entering risk and value-based payment arrangements
- Ongoing investment in product, infrastructure and client success services
- Listening to and incorporating your feedback
- Building partnerships that enhance our capabilities to meet your needs
- Being your partner for the long haul
- Enabling DRVS to make a difference in the care you deliver to your patients!
After an introduction to Azara’s leadership team, Jeff paid tribute to Heather Budd, our friend and colleague who passed away this past fall. Heather was a fierce advocate for our clients and played a major role in developing and delivering previous conferences. We missed her leadership, creativity, and passion, but felt her spirit in the butterfly decorations and enthusiasm attendees and speakers had for transformation.
Our Keynote Speaker, Amanda Skinner, President and CEO of Planned Parenthood of Southern New England spent the next hour sharing her journey and what healthcare providers and organizations can do to promote and increase health equity. With health disparities highlighted and exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic, Amanda used a quote by Arthur Ashe, “Start where you are. Use what you have. Do what you can.” to provide a framework to take action in addressing these inequalities with which FQHCs are so familiar.
After a brief coffee break, attendees headed to the first round of breakout sessions. We had great conversations with our client speakers with topics including payer integration, care management, data and population health, quality improvement and dental care, and COVID-19 tools in DRVS.
Following a delicious lunch, Greg Augustine, Azara Chief Technology & Product Officer provided a Product Update as he reviewed items added over the past year and previewed some new and exciting features on the docket for the next few months. In summary, too much functionality, too little time! If you want to learn how Greg comes up with ideas for the product roadmap, click here.
We had another jam-packed afternoon of breakout sessions and are extremely proud that 80% of this year’s breakout sessions were led by client speakers. I look forward to continuing that trend, as I strongly believe the Azara network is the greatest source of creative ideas for successfully putting DRVS data into practice.
We then adjourned to the Ballroom for a great networking reception where everyone got to relax and enjoy a bit. I loved seeing people take advantage of the photo booth! Many attendees also caught a Red Sox or Celtics game, taking in the full Boston experience.
Wednesday, May 4th – Conference Day 2
We kicked of Wednesday morning with a “Pretty Darn Quick” general session where seven amazing speakers from across the country shared for 5 minutes how they use DRVS to create success. I was amazed at all of the different ways organizations use data to drive change. If you want to hear more about these successes, register for our upcoming PDQ webinar here.
Our second general session had LuAnn Kimker, SVP Clinical Innovation lead a discussion on the future of population health. The Future of Population Health 2022 survey conducted by Azara points out that, ‘The path to harness data to unlock major gains in patient health impact is a long and circuitous journey’. Even back in 2014, Azara was leading the way and setting the stage for where we are today. We were very excited to have our panelists—William Grimm, Chief Health Information Officer at Health Partners of Western Ohio, Greg Stone, CEO of Peach Tree Health Care, and Susan Wilson, Consultant at Susan Wilson LLC—share how they are living that vision in all stages of the journey.
After two additional breakout sessions and some lunch, attendees reconvened one last time, where Jeff presented some special client awards and played the videos that had been submitted for our 2022 Video Contest. This year's “TikTok” themed contest had two submissions—one from the conference video stalwarts, Fordland Clinic and one from the lovely “Quality Team” at Valley Professionals Community Health Center. Both groups received one full conference pass for next year’s Azara User Conference.
As we came to the end, Jeff acknowledged the key people who helped bring the conference to fruition: LuAnn Kimker, Kristen Jones, Nancy D’Ercole, Marly Jean-Francios, Colleen McIntyre, Carrie Taylor, Leah Dafoulas, Emily Holzman, Meg Carley, Kaitlyn Gordon and myself. Even though he forgot Meg’s picture, we all got on stage to receive a beautiful bouquet of flowers.
As I end this long recap of such a wonderful week, I would be remiss if I did not extend a special thanks to you, our clients for your support and participation. Without you, none of this would be possible.
We hope those that attended left with more DRVS knowledge and understanding of how it can help make a difference to patient care than they had at the start and everyone reading this is sufficiently excited to make sure they join us next year!