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HIMMS Spotlight: VersatileHealth Is Taking Pain Out of IT For Healthcare Providers

“ What we are doing is taking all of the technology issues out of the hands of the physicians so they can concentrate on patient care,” says John Barker, the CEO of VersatileHealth, which is making its debut at the mega HIMMS (Healthcare Information Management Systems) 2019 conference this week in Orlando, Fla. with an East Coast roll out of its end to end healthcare managed service.

When a small medical practice found its primary server dead last Fall with an inability to access fourteen years of patient data, the doctors turned to VersatileHealth to get them back up and running in 24 hours with an end to end cloud based managed service.

"What we are doing is taking care of the technology so doctors can deliver a higher level of care to their patients," says John Barker, the CEO of Versatile, the Marlborough, Mass. parent of VerstileHealth, which is making its debut at the mega HIMMS (Healthcare Information Management Systems) 2019 conference this week in Orlando, Fla. "We are ultimately taking away the headache of IT for these healthcare providers. That is what this is all about."

The HIMMS conference - the healthcare equivalent of the Super Bowl - is giving VersatileHealth the perfect venue to shine the spotlight on the East Coast roll out of its end to end healthcare managed service.

A managed service aimed at taking away the pain of running complex, highly distributed healthcare practices is no small matter given the increasing pressures facing physicians in the highly regulated healthcare world. Those pressures are reaching a boiling point in many cases due to aging IT systems.

VersatileHealth says that in majority of cases physician practices are using IT equipment in one form or another that is more than a decade old. And physicians- like many small businesses – often put off upgrading old technology until it breaks down.

"We take a practice that has been running on 10 year old technology and completely upgrade it from stem to stern," says Barker. "We come in and take technology ownership and increase practice productivity. We are deploying technology and tools that allow them to get better application performance and that is giving physicians some of their time back to deliver better patient care."

The Versatile Health Managed Service essentially is providing an end to digital transformation with a host of "empowering" technologies at the point of care that were unavailable just a few years ago because of the prohibitive cost of implementing those edge solutions, said Barker.

Linda Fimian, the senior manager of Versatile Managed Services with more than a decade of healthcare services experience, says spinning up a hosted cloud environment in a redundant Tier Three facility for a physician practice in trouble in 24 hours shows the power of the VersatileHealth managed service offering.

"That was very traumatic for the physicians," says Fimian of the VersatileHealth rapid fire remediation in the wake of the infrastructure failure. "We were able to help get those health care records up and running so the physicians could not only see patients but also bill them which is their livelihood. Now we are their end to end service provider with responsibility for their electronic healthcare records, backup, domain management and their end user support."

The VersatileHealth offering aimed at "Empowering Technology At The Point of Care" - ranges from connecting physicians to healthcare records to technology support to high level consulting aimed at increasing physician practice productivity. The physician practices have the option of managed services or on premise offerings – all offered under a "connect, support and optimize" methodology.

David Christiansen Jr., senior vice president of the VersatileHealth Services organization, says the fully hosted cloud service priced at a per provider model is gaining momentum.

"This is the practice of the future model," he says. "It's an end to end offering that gets the headache of technology out of the way for the physician so they can spend more time with patients. So if a physician has 15 minutes to spend with a patient they aren't worried about not being able to log in or change their password. VersatileHealth is on the other end of the line to solve those issues. We understand the healthcare environment. We get it."

The beauty of the fully hosted managed service is it takes away any and all of the technology pain points for physicians, said Christiansen, a 19 year healthcare solutions veteran. "We become the single point of contact managing cases with electronic healthcare record vendors, hardware vendors and other third parties," he said. "We are looking for operational efficiencies,system efficiencies, bandwidth improvements, inefficiencies with configurations, third party issues. They know we are the one stop shop and we have their backs."

VersatileHealth's deep healthcare technology expertise – which includes multiple executives with more than a decade experience in the healthcare technology business- combined with Versatile's 25 year heritage of dealing with complex distributed infrastructure is saving the day for healthcare customers flummoxed by hard to solve technology issues.

In more than a few cases, VersatileHealth has been called in to solve healthcare electronic record performance issues that literally drove some clinician support staff working under intense pressure with inadequate systems to tears.

"We have teams go in and look at the infrastructure end to end to see where the bottlenecks are in very complex ecosystems, whether it is storage, network, virtual server layer, WAN connectivity," says Jason Record, senior director of healthcare solutions at Versatile."We also have application experts who can look at whether the way the application is being used is causing the performance issues. It is that kind of expertise that we are bringing to healthcare organizations that is making a difference. What we are doing is removing the frustration with technology that can sometimes be a big barrier to providing care."

In one case, VersatileHealth pinpointed an esoteric faulty fibre cable as the point of failure for an issue that was causing performance issues for 50 percent of several hundred physician practices using an electronic health care record system. In that case, VersatileHealth was working with multiple parties including an affiliated doctors network , multiple service providers, hosting providers and internet providers.

"We had the knowledge to narrow that to specific internet service providers," said Record, who has 16 years of healthcare IT experience. "We have the technologies and tools that work best in these healthcare environments. To be able to have those tools and push the issue with the various network providers is key. We provided the data to get everyone on the same page and resolve the issue."

VersatileHealth's focus goes beyond infrastructure to now helping physicians get access to analytics information that can help them deliver better patient care, said Record.

VersatileHealth's mission is to take away the technology headaches that physicians are dealing with in a pressure packed, sometimes life or death scenario, says Christiansen.

"Technology is often a headache that separates the physician from the patient," said Christiansen. "What we do is take care of technology so physicians can take care of their patients. We are the single point of contact for all their IT requirements."

The problem with the healthcare system is physicians are often connected to sophisticated hospital or healthcare organizations with central IT organizations that are not used to dealing with technology issues for smaller physician offices.

"This is not standard tree based troubleshooting," said Christiansen. "We know these environments. In most cases, we have helped build and remediate them. When someone calls us we know who they are and how to deal with it and in some cases the support folks answering the phones have worked in medical practices. We speak the language of the providers. We call it white glove service."

That "white glove" VersatileHealth service includes technology talent that broke ground in the healthcare business helping to build some of the first electronic healthcare systems including the WebMD billing system that was rolled out to 1,600 physician practices in 2001 across the state of Massachusetts. Then in 2005, the core VersatileHealth team was chosen as the infrastructure partner to work on a Blue Cross Blue Shield initiative aimed at building standards around electronic healthcare records.

"We have been delivering healthcare solutions as a group for 17 years," says Christiansen of the core team that is driving the VersatileHealth business. "We think the whole managed service package we bring to the market is something unique. It is pitched by a lot of people but we have rolled out and implemented technology at as many as 10,000 practices over that extended period of time. The quality of the team we are putting in front of our clients is a big, big deal. What we are doing now is taking that pedigree with hundreds of years of combined experience and turning it into the 2019 practice of the future managed service."

The managed service is being fueled by more cost effective digital transformation technologies that are changing how physicians do their job and provide care, said Christiansen. "Many of these physician practices can't always afford a technology upgrade or refresh," he says. "We have been very thoughtful about how we have packaged up our services so they fit to the requirements that these medical practices and organizations have to live up to. That is why the monthly as a service that provides physicians with a security and comfort level that they just don't have right now is growing."

Christiansen says he conservatively estimates a 40 percent growth rate in the VersatileHealth managed services adoption over the next 12-18 months. "We believe there is a tremendous opportunity in the market," he says. "The impact of what we are offering has a tremendous punch. We have conversations going on right now for hosting 200 providers and providing practice support for 147 providers."

Don Pare', interim chief information officer for Beth Israel Deaconess HealthCare (BIDC), the primary care organization for the Beth Israel Deaconess system, said VeratileHealth's tier one level support keeps the medical practice provider teams, including nurses, medical assistants and front office staff, focused on healthcare rather than IT issues. "Having a good support program managed by Versatile allows the team to continue to focus on patient care and not worry about IT," he said.

The VersatileHealth services model – which includes both infrastructure including networking issues and electronic healthcare record (EHR) issues – gives the 40 practice providers and 500 end users being supported one phone number to call for any and all issues, said Pare.

"We have one phone number for every person and every practice to call whether it is a clinical system issue or a hardware issue," said Pare. "They don't have to differentiate. VersatileHealth does all of that for us."

As part of tier one level EHR support, Beth Israel is tied into the VerstileHealth service ticket system."That has allowed our EHR analysts to keep track of the type of categories that our practices are having issues with,"said Pare.

Pare credited the VersatileHealth team with evolving to provide ever greater services to BIDC. In fact, he said, the core VersatileHealth team has gone from supporting 15 practice organizations at BIDC in 2010 to 40 practices in 2019. "One of the things that is great about Versatile is how adaptable and flexible they are," he said.

What's more, Pare said he is interested in continuing to look to VersatileHealth for potential new services in the future including EHR optimization. "It's a fast changing healthcare environment," he said.

At HIMMS this week, VersatileHealth will have a team of 10 employees bringing the managed service to the East Coast as part of its super regional managed services market offensive.

Barker, for his part, said he sees the HIMMS kickoff as the starting point to move the VersatileHealth managed service from several hundred physicians to thousands of physicians.

"This is a big bet for us," says Barker. "One of the strengths that we have had over 25 years in business is helping our customers – in this case healthcare – adapt to the technology changes that are taking place. The timing is right for this service. The healthcare providers really need our help. The idea that physicians are worrying about technology refreshes is not right. What we are doing is taking all of the technology issues out of the hands of the physicians so they can concentrate on patient care."

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