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End of Year Update with Azara CEO Jeff Brandes

As 2018 comes to a close, I wanted to take a moment to reflect on the past year. What a special 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, including multiple visits to the two states furthest away from Boston, Alaska and Hawaii. Our team is not just traversing the US; we are fully engaged and working with clients in 27 of those states plus the District of Columbia.

Needless to say, 2018 was extremely exciting for us. Our team grew significantly and our client base blossomed to more than 300 health centers spread across 5,500+ 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.


User Conference

In early May, over 225 DRVS users traveled from as far across the nation to join us at the second Annual Azara DRVS User Conference here in Boston. By holding out until May, we were able to give all our visitors a taste of springtime in Boston. It was 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 number of outstanding guest presenters. We also introduced a one-day pre-conference workshop to give our clients the opportunity to gain more hands-on training. The workshop filled up within two weeks. I also enjoyed watching our clients meet and learn from each other. I continue to be overwhelmed and humbled by the enthusiasm and passion of our clients. We are planning for 350+ people to join us May 21-23 here in Boston. Registration is open, don’t wait until it’s too late.

Company Milestones

In May of 2018, Azara was awarded its HITRUST compliance certificate. HITRUST Certified verifies that Azara has set up and maintains the Common Security Framework (CSF) which combines nationally and internationally accepted standards including ISO, NIST, PCI and HIPAA to ensure a comprehensive set of baseline security controls. While this was a critical milestone for us, the responsible stewardship of your patient data is of utmost importance and we will continue to invest in the people, process, technology and programs necessary to keep your data safe. In May, Azara DRVS also achieved NCQA Pre-validated status.

Product Offerings

This year, we also significantly increased the capabilities of DRVS. With many of our clients preparing to enter into Value-based contracts, the integration of payer data was a priority as we continued to roll out new and additional reports for tracking enrollment & attribution, total medical expense, 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 enrollment and claims data from their managed care plans.

In 2018, Azara expanded its role as the “data hub” in a variety of areas. We successfully connected to four additional Health Information Exchanges (HIE) bringing to eight 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 Performing Provider Systems (PPS).

In late 2017, we introduced controlled substances reporting in an effort to give our clients better tools to set up and manage the programs necessary to combat the opioid epidemic. Throughout 2018, we have continued to enhance this module as a large number of health centers have chosen to adopt this important DRVS enhancement. This year also saw the adoption of the PRAPARE model for collecting Social Determinants of Health (SDOH) and we have been working hard to map all of this new data into DRVS and provide reports and dashboards to allow users to distill the information into actionable tasks.

While many of the additions to DRVS are new reports or enhancements to things like filters, the most visible update in 2018 was the introduction of a new customizable dashboard. We have already seen many clients gravitate to building their own dashboards and we are excited about the possibilities that this unlocks.


Last, but certainly not least, in May we previewed concepts and wireframes for a new Azara Care Management tool at the Azara User Conference and our team has been working hard all year to prepare this new product for market. We have been testing this product, which leverages all of the data within DRVS to help clients tackle focused, task-oriented efforts for managing specific high-need populations. As one client said so eloquently, “This product will replace the ‘wreath of sticky notes’ circling my monitor”.  Azara Care Management is currently in beta testing with select clients and I look forward to providing more information early next year.


Azara increased both its client base and its revenue by over 40%, strengthening our balance sheet and assuring we can continue to invest in ongoing innovations.
Staff Expansion


We added twelve new staff members, enhancing our capabilities and capacity in all areas of our business.
Grant & Program Involvement


This year, we announced our partnership with Upstream USA and began working closely with them in Washington State. 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, HRSA MH-SU, CDC Million Hearts, CMS’ Practice Transformation Network, and the American Cancer Society’s efforts to prevent breast, cervical and colorectal cancers. I am anticipating these initiatives will continue to flourish and expand in 2019.
Reflections on CHC’s


While I am proud to describe Azara’s tremendous progress in 2018, I am also cognizant of the climate in which our clients are currently operating. We stood with you in support of Congress providing a long-term solution for funding Federally Qualified Health Centers and renewing support for CHIP. We are working with a number of clients with regard to studying the impact of the “public charge” legislation and most importantly, we remain committed to providing you the solutions you need to quantify your success as 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 up 2018, I want to close with a just a few important thoughts:
First, on the business side, while I feel this year was successful on many fronts, I am even more energized for 2019. The breadth and depth of opportunities that we are looking to tackle with our clients and partners next year are enormous. You should look forward to Azara helping you solve new problems and introducing innovative solutions and functionality that can assist you in accomplishing your mission. I look forward to sharing them as they become available.
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 good data.
Lastly, on behalf of all of us at Azara, I want to thank you – our clients and partners – for your unwavering support of Azara this past year. We are honored 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.
Jeff Brandes
President and CEO of Azara Healthcare