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Why Pokemon Go is More Important to the Future of Healthcare Than Your EMR By Bruce Brandes (with Charlie Martin)

By | Blog, Interview

(as seen on HIStalk on September 7, 2016)

Over a year ago, I completed an HIStalk blog series entitled “All I Needed to Know to Disrupt Healthcare, I Learned from Seinfeld.” Now we have a new pop culture phenomenon from which our industry has much to learn.

At a recent conference, keynote speaker and legendary healthcare services entrepreneur Charlie Martin made the following proclamation to a ballroom full of healthcare IT leaders: “Pokemon Go has more to do with the future of healthcare than your EMR.”


I’m pleased to collaborate with Charlie through this column to illuminate how a free gaming app will have more of an impact than the billions of dollars spent on an array of electronic medical record systems over the past couple of decades.

Who Cares About Your EMR?


When you are at home, do you celebrate your plumbing or electricity? Were the type of pipes or wires used in the house a factor in your decision to buy your house? Certainly being able to have light at the flip of a switch and taking a shower are foundational requirements in any home, expected to always work and not be the cause of problems.

Similarly, the EMR is not a reason a patient selects a hospital or physician. Patients assume and expect you to give them the right drugs, monitor their lab tests, and perform clinical procedures according to best practices. Please keep your Epic go-live parties (and the disproportionate financial investment you’ve made) in perspective.

Moreover, not only does a patient not care about which EMR you use, here’s another potentially shocking revelation. Apart from delivering a baby, no person ever really wants to be a patient in a hospital. The healthcare system of the future aligns incentives and engages people to be healthy and avoid the hospital if at all possible.

That is where Pokemon Go becomes more meaningful than your EMR. As our industry clamors to advance initiatives such as population health, consumer engagement, and virtual care to move from a sick-care system to a health-care system, there is much to learn from the example set by Pokemon Go.

What Pokemon Go Has Done in 30 Days that EMRs Couldn’t Do in 30 Years

  • Attracts 21 million users and 4-5 million new downloads a day.
  • Users spend an average of 45 minutes per day finding Pokemon (and get exercise by walking or running as a byproduct).
  • Seven of 10 users who download the app return the next day.
  • With a free application, Pokemon Go has generated $1.6 million in revenue per day.

Key Takeaways from Pokemon Go for Healthcare

Gamification and augmented reality drive real “meaningful use.” If Pokemon Go can get people moving worldwide in 30 days, just think about how we can extrapolate the platform from here. We are exponentially expanding the number of people who are exercising without realizing they are exercising. How can this concept be applied to drive healthier eating, medication compliance, and preventative screenings?

  • No boundaries. Virtually every individual carries a powerful computer in their pocket in the form of a smartphone. Pokemon Go meets people where they are — in their home or office, on their schedule, and at their convenience.
  • So simple your kid or your grandma can use it. No friction to drive viral use. No cost (freemium model to revenue). Very obvious to understand how to download and use. No implementation or training required.
  • Free. In order to get rapid adoption, do not create friction by charging users to engage. In addition to Pokemon Go, few people would have ever used applications such as Facebook, LinkedIn, TripAdvisor, Yelp, etc. had there been a cost to participate. That said, these companies have figured out how to subsequently monetize from third parties that derive benefit from the resulting widespread engagement of millions, without infringing on the value and trust experienced by all those free users.

There is a new wave of healthcare innovations which strive to incorporate the principles above into their new solutions.

Among them, I’m sure you’ve noticed that Apple has set their sights squarely on impacting the healthcare industry. Healthcare has taken note of Silicon Valley’s track record of creating new businesses which have put many entrenched institutions out of business. Apple clearly appreciates the foundational value of the electronic medical record, but sees it as a commoditized base from which real value will be created. Apple CEO Tim Cook recently commented regarding its healthcare aspirations:

We’ve gotten into the health arena. We started looking at wellness. That took us to pulling a string to thinking about research. Pulling that string a little further took us to some patient care stuff. That pulled a string that’s taking us into some other stuff. When you look at most of the solutions — whether it’s devices or things coming up out of big pharma — first and foremost, they are done to get the reimbursement, not thinking about what helps the patient. If you don’t care about reimbursement, which we have the privilege of doing, that may even make the smartphone market look small.

What might he be referencing regarding thinking about what helps the patient?

Lead an active lifestyle. Eat natural, whole foods. Rest. Care for those in your community. These are many of the basic principles on which people have lived since the beginning to time, at least until recently. Proven choices that lead to health, enhanced and exacted by an explosion of promising digital health solutions, are perhaps our path back to the future of healthcare.

Established healthcare organizations – providers, vendors and supportive third parties alike — need to think differently, collaborate in new ways, and be a meaningful part of embracing and accelerating innovation. Pokemon Go represents a step (or 10,000 steps per day) in the right direction.

Bruce Brandes is founder and CEO of Lucro. Charlie Martin is chairman of Martin Ventures

Lucro Company Update – Q2 2016

By | Blog, Update | No Comments


Over the past few months, Lucro has made great strides forward.  As I pause for a moment to reflect, I’ll highlight two core competencies which have given us clarity and confidence in our path ahead:

Listen: We have been remarkably fortunate to have engaged visionary advisors, influential healthcare organizations, creative vendors and experienced investors to illuminate a deep understanding industry challenges and opportunities.

Focus: Our vision to reinvent the connection between buyers and sellers of innovations for healthcare is broad, so we have refined our focus to ensure Lucro executes well in specific areas as a practical foundation from which to build.
I am pleased to share a summary with you what we have learned and how we are applying that knowledge to build a transformational company.  More detail is below.

Healthcare Organizations Top Goals for Lucro 

  • Accelerate discovery and improve collaboration to make faster decisions, with lower risk, regarding new innovations
  • Maximize the value of investments in current solutions and scale relationships with proven vendor partners where feasible

Vendors Top Goals for Lucro

  • Ensure access and opportunity to be considered for relevant decisions
  • Improve and accelerate return on sales and marketing investments

Product Update

  • Idea Boards are now being used by health systems to discover and collaborate
  • Search capabilities enhanced with greater intelligence for more intuitive discovery
  • Built a unique algorithm serving to provide a more scientific, systematic and comprehensive approach for connecting healthcare organizations and vendors
  • Initial use cases focused on clarifying and advancing topics of population health, patient engagement, telemedicine and value-based care

Business Update

  • Experiencing early indicators a network effect in building the Lucro multi-sided platform
  • Have expanded beyond our original early adopter network by inviting additional healthcare organizations that are now using Lucro
  • Significant progress in vendor engagement with completing their solution cards; launching an updated user experience for vendors
  • Market is validating and prioritizing premium services to be made available through Lucro
  • Key senior healthcare and technology executives join Lucro leadership


Lucro Idea Boards: “eHarmony” for Healthcare Organizations and Vendors

Think about how different dating is today from the past and the analogous opportunity represented for healthcare.  In the past, people would go to a bar or party for a limited “selection” of prospects.  Perhaps mutual friends would play matchmaker across their network of contacts to help bolster odds of success.

Today, the game has changed for the lovelorn.  Multi-sided platforms like Match and eHarmony apply an algorithmic approach to understanding the needs, preferences and desires of the individual, across a much broader community, to scientifically suggest connections that are a more likely fit for both parties.  Privately, through a more trusted platform, each can evaluate options and control if, when and how to proceed.  Results have been clear for many – a more time-efficient, cost-effective platform that better addresses the interests of all involved.

For decades, healthcare vendors have gone to the “bar” to “hit on” potential customers through telesales, bulk emails, trade show exhibits, direct mail, advertising, etc.  Healthcare organizations (like the girl at the bar trying to avoid eye contact and refusing free drinks) play “defense” through convoluted, elongated processes like RFIs, RFPs, demonstrations that they navigate through an unmanageable amount of internal meetings, emails, spreadsheets, share point files, etc.

Architected by one of Silicon Valley’s most prestigious tech design firms, under the direction of leaders from the nation’s largest and most progressive healthcare organizations, Lucro has delivered a multi-sided platform to enable a paradigm shift for healthcare innovation.

Too often our industry starts with a product in search of a problem.  Lucro supports a shift in that mindset, through idea boards, by allowing a healthcare leader to privately and simply:

  • Identify the problem or opportunity they seek to address
  • Define the objective and measures of success
  • Relate the corporate strategic initiative which this idea or project is intended to support
  • Pin vendors’ solution cards for multiple products and services which may offer components of a total solution
  • As the idea evolves, invite trusted colleagues to privately collaborate
  • Gain trusted insights through ratings and reviews from peers across the industry
  • If and when appropriate, share the idea board across your own organization, to align with others possibly pursuing similar ideas, understand and comply with corporate standards, leverage existing solutions, etc.

At the same time, through their unique solution cards for each product or service they offer, vendors can clearly and concisely define the information potential buyers want to understand from them when in discovery, including:

  • What does it do?
  • How does it work?
  • What are the benefits?
  • What makes it different?
  • Who are the typical clients / users?

Based on such information described above, Lucro’s algorithm starts playing matchmaker between the healthcare leaders creating idea boards and the vendors completing their solution cards.  The more clear and specific you are, the more likely to find a possible match (i.e. claiming “we are a synergistic partner” doesn’t mean anything, but “we can reduce cardiac readmissions by 20%” does).

Lucro also becomes smarter over time based on the power of our community.  Our algorithm learns across our rapidly expanding network of healthcare users, gaining broad insights by role, system type and other meta-data to inform and refine future searches.

“Discover Together”

In the coming weeks, healthcare leaders will be able to publish their ideas boards (de-itentified as to the name of the organization) to the Lucro Marketplace as a way to invite the broader vendor community to “knock”, with algorithmic guidance, for consideration of inclusion in an active idea board for which the best products and services are to be discovered.

To accelerate and “de-risk” discovery at the same time requires a new type of collaboration across buyers, sellers and trusted third party organizations (such as industry associations, GPOs, consulting firms, investors, analysts, etc).  Lucro synthesizes and provides context to those disparate insights.

Additionally, when a healthcare organization conducts a search, the Lucro algorithm can be enhanced by sort and filtering options to give the decision-maker control to discover solutions based on the criteria most valuable to them.  A health system can enhance this capability further by populating their private “MyMarketplace” filter, providing internal insight into currently deployed and corporate standard products to drive enterprise-wide alignment.

Initial Use Cases
To bring focus regarding where to best begin, we listened to our early adopting heath systems to understand their common priorities:

  • Population Health
  • Patient Engagement
  • Telemedicine
  • Value-Based Care

While most had identified the same areas of need, their specific definition varied widely, unique to each health system.  More, a growing array of vendors in these areas market themselves with the similar high-level messaging, but have very different (and in many cases complementary) offerings.

Lucro has been focused on ensuring all the vendors with products or services in support of these four initiatives are completing the content of their solution cards.  At the same time, our early adopting health systems are actively creating idea boards to begin the discovery process and inviting peers to collaborate to help make better purchase decisions.

If you are a buyer or seller of solutions to support these four specific initial use cases, we encourage you to engage in Lucro now to be part of this community.  More use cases will be prioritized in the coming months, but we are now focused on more clearly defining what buyers and sellers individually mean when they say population health, patient engagement, telemedicine and value-based care.

Network Effect Expanding the Lucro Community

We are proud to have recently invited additional healthcare organizations into Lucro, now participating alongside our initial group of early adopters.  Most commonly, our partnership is led by the Chief Innovation / Strategy Officer, Chief Information Officer or head of Supply Chain.  In parallel to selectively expanding the buyer side, we now have hundreds of vendors that have directly engaged to complete their information across our expanding database of thousands of solution cards.

Still early in this journey, we are now seeing the beginning of the network effect we anticipated.

Buyers Engaging More Sellers

Major health systems serving as our early adopters have instructed their current IT vendors to complete their solution cards (at no cost), which enables their use of “MyMarketplace” filters.  Others are redirecting traditional vendor outreach via cold calls and unsolicited emails to instead have them add facts about their offering into Lucro, which allows healthcare leaders to discover those products in the context of the challenges they have prioritized for decision making.  Once a vendor joins Lucro at the request of one, their information is immediately available for discovery for all.

Sellers Engaging More Buyers

Once a vendor claims their solution card, they are given a link to share with their current customers to offer a rating and review (even if that health system in not yet a Lucro user).  A more effective way to leverage references, this process has created a current waitlist of dozens more hospitals which will subsequently be invited to also use Lucro (at not cost) for discovery and idea board collaboration within their own organizations.

Join Us

We appreciate the word-of-mouth based growth Lucro is experiencing from buyers telling other buyers and sellers telling other sellers about Lucro!  We will continue to focus on delivering a robust multi-sided platform and sincerely value your continued support in inviting healthcare organizations and vendors to participate with us now.

Team Growth

I am pleased to share that healthcare IT veteran Miriam Paramore has joined Lucro as Chief Operating Officer.  Miriam brings a wealth of experience and leadership to Lucro, recently serving as Executive Vice President at Emdeon (now Change Healthcare), where she helped lead the development of the largest healthcare financial and administrative network in the United States while also serving on the Board of Directors at HIMSS.

Our company is further benefitting from two recent additions to our Board of Directors, with David McClellan (Heritage Group) and Will Morrow (HCA) now serving alongside Charlie Martin, Phil Roe, Frank Coliano, Devin Carty and George Lazenby.

Finally, look for our new website to be launched in a few weeks at to provide the broader market the more current view into the company, including much of the information I have previewed for you in this quarterly update.

Thank you again for your ongoing support and encouragement.

The Lucro Vision for Healthcare

By | Interview, News

(as appeared on American Healthcare Leaders on June 17, 2016)

Vision is necessary for any company to be truly successful. In today’s segment, Lucro’s Founder & CEO, Bruce Brandes, discusses the Lucro vision for healthcare.

Lucro Vision - American Healthcare LeadersBrandes describes Lucro’s growth model, explaining where they’re at now and what they envision for the future. Starting with a network of “early adopter” health systems, the Lucro platform is steadily growing:

“We really are becoming the core catalytic component for how these large organizations internally collaborate and communicate and engage with their vendor partners. So we think there’s a tremendous opportunity to set that model within our early adopter network ahead of rolling it out to the other organizations.”

Afterwards Dan Nielsen asks how other healthcare organizations can be involved. Brandes responds that they have an “open door” to healthcare organizations and you can find out more on the Lucro website.

In the second segment, Brandes discusses the benefits he desires for the two stakeholder communities they are striving to serve with their multi-sided platform.

Benefits to Healthcare Organizations:

  • Accelerate execution on innovation
  • Achieve outcomes from those innovations
  • Achieve better care, better health, and better cost for their communities

To watch these segments in full and hear more about the benefits to healthcare providers and vendors, click below.

Bruce Brandes on Lucro’s Unique Healthcare Insights

By | Interview, News

(as presented by America’s Healthcare Leaders on June 15. Please click here for the original article)

In today’s featured segments, Bruce Brandes, Founder & CEO of Lucro, explains how his organization is able to glean and share industry insights from the metadata created by users of the digital platform.

In the first segment Brandes describes the multi-sided digital platform for healthcare organizations and vendors, and discusses the insights available into the market and the incredible value of metadata.

“Our goal, in the short run, is to build the platform and to scale it very quickly, and to go very deep within the health systems in terms of being the backbone of how they internally collaborate and communicate… A byproduct of capturing the data that comes as a result of all those interactions is we really have the opportunity to become a data analytics company, gleaning insights in the industry that frankly just don’t exist today.”

In the second segment, Brandes addresses the question of Lucro’s relationship to group purchasing organizations (GPOs). He explains:

“We want to partner with the GPOs to help synthesize their insights… we think there’s a tremendous opportunity to partner with the GPOs. I personally believe that GPOs—and a lot of legacy organizations (and true of health systems as well)—really have to be very introspective on what value they’re bringing, and potentially reinvent themselves going forward to add the value that the industry will need in the future. And we think Lucro can be an enabler for those organizations that are striving to figure out how do they play a more meaningful role in the future of healthcare, as opposed to what they may have done in the past, because I think the expectations from the industry will be different.”

To hear more on Lucro’s unique healthcare insights, click on this link to view the videos below.