November 16, 2015

VUE15 Recap: Voalte, Uber & more

Travis Good, MD

Co-founder & Chief Technology Officer

This week was the first Voalte User Experience (VUE) conference. Datica sponsored the event, which took place in Sarasota, FL, and moderated a panel on lessons learned in mobile health and the path forward. We were happy to be included in the event and to support it; we’re also very excited to be working with Voalte.

Overall, it was a great learning and collaborative experience. In talking with Trey Lauderdale, Voalte founder and CEO, prior to the event, I asked him why Voalte decided to do a user meeting this year for the first time and not in previous years. He told me Voalte wanted to assure they had enough customers and experiences to put together a two-day event filled with high quality content. Voalte wanted attendees to walk away feeling like they got real value out of attending the event. Voalte succeeded in that goal, and did it with typical Voalte personality, and a lot of pink scrubs and Gator references. It was a refreshing experience to be a part of such an intimate, collaborative event.

For those that don’t know Voalte, you likely will soon.

They provide a healthcare communications platform that integrates text, voice, alarm management, and a slew of other features to facilitate clinical communications, improve efficiencies, and ultimately improve the safety and care of patients. Some statistics about Voalte from the conference:

  • Voalte has signed over 150 healthcare facilities;
  • Voalte has delivered over 165 million text messages;
  • Voalte has delivered over 250 million automated messages from things like bed alarms;
  • Voalte has raised over $60M dollars in venture funding to support its growth;
  • Voalte has 4 products - Voalte Platform (new), Voalte Me, Voalte One, and now Voalte Story.

Voalte has a new partnership with Uber to improve attendance at follow-up appointments for discharged patients. Voalte Platform is an inevitable and powerful evolution for Voalte. It’s a completely new technology that is built from the ground up to be flexible and open. It exposes much of the functionality of Voalte via API and SDK, empowering customers and partners to customize and extend Voalte as they see fit. This openness is something that will enable much of what customers talked about as things they want to see in Voalte.

What’s particularly interesting about Voalte is where it sits in the clinical landscape. As many have said, including us at datica, the EHR today is the hub of clinical data and workflows. But, as many also have said, care is largely about communication and EHRs were not built for communication, they were built for documentation and to serve as the clinical database. As EHRs like Epic release mobile tools like Rover for nursing workflows and Cerner releases its own apps for particular workflows, we’re going to see a lot of deep app-linking. But, I also think Voalte’s rich communication functionality, tied to its openness via API, makes it the likely candidate to be the communications layer for clinical care. And that communication layer now doesn’t have to be outside the EHR, but can be integrated into the mobile and desktop EHR workflows.

The event wasn’t just about Voalte. One of the more interesting topics discussed was alarm management and alarm fatigue. Voalte integrates alarms to deliver them to users via the Voalte apps. A topic of several sessions at VUE was managing the number and delivery of alarms. Organizations presented data on different departments and different types of alarms. Several healthcare organizations had modified alarming rules and criteria to reduce the number of alarms while maintaining the safety of patients. It’s impressive how they have been able to achieve this. A major theme was coming together as a group to publish evidence-based standards for alarm criteria, something that hasn’t happened yet.

It was interesting to hear people from places like University of Iowa, UCSF, Sarasota Memorial Hospital, and Tampa General Hospital talk about what their goals are for enhancements and additions to the Voalte experience for users. Some of the things mentioned several times were integration with EHR mobile apps for clinical workflows, integration with clinician and call schedules, and integration of more clinical data from the EHR to add context and value to communications.

One topic, which is emerging as a topic at several organizations leveraging Voalte Me instead of pagers, was a need for clinicians to be able to disconnect. With pages, clinicians could only carry them when on call. With clinical communications via personal smartphones, this is not possible. What’s funny is we’re dealing with the same issues at Datica with our use of Slack. We have coverage schedules for off-hours issues and downtime, but not everybody is on call all the time. The problem is people sometimes get mentioned in the middle of the night for things that, to put it mildly, are not emergencies. I think the topics of message and chat etiquette are active areas not just for Voalte, but for all organizations moving away from email and to messaging tools.

Kudos to Voalte for the hard work that went into putting together a great first user conference. I’m sure after the success of this week, and the growth plans for Voalte, this will not be the last VUE event. We look forward to our continued collaboration with Voalte and support for future VUE events.

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