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.

Lucro Company Update – Q1 2016

By | Blog

Lucro has made great strides since our corporate launch last November at the Becker’s CEO Roundtable.  In particular, the partnership and industry influence of Lucro’s early adopters, advisors and investors has resulted in a functionally-rich solution and significant market momentum to accelerate innovation in healthcare.

Below is an overview of the recent progress we have made to establish and expand our platform, community, and company.


Advisory Board Now Complete

The purpose of our Advisory Board is to validate our priorities and support our strategies through their expansive industry experience and professional networks.

We are fortunate to have recently added two legendary healthcare innovators to our Board of Advisors.  Molly Coye, MD MPH currently serves as Entrepreneur in Residence at the Network for Excellence in Health Innovation (NEHI).  Previously, Molly established herself as a thought leader as Chief Innovation Officer at UCLA Health and as Founder and CEO of the Health Technology Center (HealthTech), noted as the premier forecasting organization for emerging technologies in health care.  We are also honored to add Anne DeGheest, a highly regarded healthcare technology pioneer, having provided angel funding and mentorship to transformative companies such as Pyxis, VISICU, Omnicell, Nelcor, Massimo and many more.


Lucro Board of Advisors

 New Strategic Investors

Lucro is fortunate to have added the financial and strategic backing of HCA and Heritage Group, now joining Martin Ventures’ commitment to fulfilling our mission.  In seeking growth capital, we placed great importance on aligning incentives with the network of health systems serving as our design partners and early adopters.  These two relationships alone deepen that alignment with organizations operating over 800 acute care facilities and hundreds of surgery centers, clinics, post-acute sites and health plans.

Lucro Strategic Advisors


My Marketplace

An important insight and consistent request we’ve received from the health systems engaged with Lucro has prioritized a new module called My Marketplace.  Lucro has been asked to enable multi-site health systems to leverage their scale by aligning internally to drive consistency, transparency and best practices across their organizations.  With Lucro, health systems can now privately:

  • Identify, understand and manage currently deployed products and services
  • Rate and review deployed solutions
  • Define and filter new solutions based on corporate standards, existing agreements and GPO contracts
  • Configure roles and permissions for Lucro users within their organization

My Marketplace replaces current efforts limited by fragmented spreadsheets, share point files, emails and in-person meetings historically attempting to address these issues.

Lucro My MarketplaceLucro My Marketplace 2

 Idea Boards

Another common insight shared by healthcare decision-makers is that they rarely shop for a “product”.  Instead, they seek to solve a problem or address an opportunity, generally requiring them to bring together multiple products and services to form a more comprehensive solution.

We created Idea Boards to help healthcare leaders to easily organize, align and collaborate around innovative products. Idea Boards allow an individual to privately “pin” relevant products as they assess a solution.  Idea Boards can be privately shared with selected colleagues to enable more effective collaboration internally or with a network of trusted industry peers.

Lucro Idea Boards

The power of Idea Boards is amplified, under the secure context of My Marketplace, by enabling the reinvention legacy RFI / RFP processes.  Healthcare organizations may select certain projects to be published to the community of solution providers within Lucro, offering vendors the opportunity to “pin” their solutions to the relevant Idea Boards for consideration where their product or service may be of value.

This option creates a more efficient way to connect for both potential buyers AND sellers.  Rather than wasting resources in the wrong places by assuming that every health system has prioritized a need to buy what they are selling, vendors can now gain visibility to the initiatives for which buyers are actively seeking innovative solutions.  Further, healthcare organizations can now redirect an unmanageable volume of cold calls and unsolicited emails toward their approved and published Idea Boards.  As a more efficient way to discover and compare innovative offerings, Idea Boards are expected to result in enhanced and accelerated decision-making.

Lucro My Marketplace 2


Two User Experiences: Lucro Professional & Lucro Enterprise

Originally we planned to make Lucro available to health systems beyond our early adopter network this month.  As expected, we delivered the functionality originally designed to support discovery, organization and collaboration – both on mobile and on the web – in what we now call the Lucro Professional experience.

However, before making Lucro Professional generally available to users, we are first focusing our resources on a much deeper engagement with our early adopters, delivering what we are referring to as the Lucro Enterprise experience.  Lucro Enterprise includes the core functionality for a Lucro Professional user, plus the enhanced functionality of My Marketplace and the ability to publish Idea Boards described above.

As the health systems in the Lucro early adopter network are now implementing Lucro Enterprise across their organizations, they are requiring their existing vendors to claim and complete the solution cards for all of their currently deployed products.  Further, many are also redirecting prospective vendors to complete their solution cards as a more concise way to gain an introductory understanding of a product or service to be considered.  As a result of the leadership of these health systems, the broader Lucro community will receive the shared benefit of rich, insightful content:

  • Once a solution card is completed for one, the content of that solution card is then available for all across the Lucro community.  This will exponentially expand a depth of information and engage solution providers across the industry.  If your company has not yet engaged in Lucro, you can claim your solution cards (at no cost) by clicking here.
  • Huge volumes of ratings and reviews are being collected within each instance of My Marketplace so each health system can understand what their leaders and users think of the products and services they use today.  These insights are de-identified outside the originating health system to inform the broader Lucro community as others look to make purchasing decisions.

Based on our focus enhancing the content with the Lucro Marketplace with our early adopters, we plan to begin to make Lucro Professional available by June 2016 with a more robust “conversation” already underway within the platform.  Over Q3 2016 we will expand the Lucro Enterprise experience to selected health systems beyond our early adopter network as well.  If you are a healthcare leader wishing to join Lucro, please register here and we will give you more details on how and when you can participate.

Accelerated Engagement from Emerging and Established Solution Providers

Through the market influence of our early adopters, health accelerators, industry associations, the media and more, we are very encouraged by companies with healthcare products and services currently claiming and more fully completing their solution cards.  The process is simple and free.  Additionally, solution providers registered with Lucro now have a link to invite their current client references to offer ratings and reviews for their offerings into the Lucro Marketplace (even if those health systems are not yet in the Lucro community).

Lucro’s team is happy to collaborate with companies to help them understand how to raise visibility with decision-makers, better leverage current clients for growth and, in the coming months, gain unique market insights to best focus resources and to refine messaging.  The initial market focus is on digital health, healthcare IT, medical devices, equipment and services companies.  Click here to engage with us.

Lucro Solution Providers
Aligning with Trusted Sources of Industry Insight

Today, there are many respected industry associations, third party advisors, investors and other trusted organizations that provide valuable insights to inform decision-making.  We have made remarkable progress by building the appropriate foundation to align with these partners.  Lucro offers decision-makers across healthcare organizations a new, independent platform to synthesize the opinions of many of these sources.  Our goal is to help every healthcare organization identify not only the best solutions for the industry but gain the context needed to find the best solution for them.



Lucro is fortunate to now be aligned with many of the most powerful organizations and influential individuals in healthcare.  However, this is just the beginning.  We invite thought leaders across the industry to join Lucro on this journey. Together, we will redefine the connection between buyers and sellers regarding the innovations with potential to catalyze transformation across the healthcare industry.

All I Needed to Know to Disrupt Healthcare I Learned from “Seinfeld”: Part I – Do The Opposite

By | Blog

In my continued efforts to learn from progressive healthcare thought leaders, I recently read Eric Topol’s new book “The Patient Will See You Now.” I was heartened to see Dr. Topol’s opening chapter illustrate his first point with an intellectual / cultural equilibrium I can appreciate … through an amusing story from “Seinfeld” about Elaine’s medical record woes. That anecdote caused me to reflect on how my favorite iconic TV show about nothing is instructive for the entrepreneurs who strive to reinvent our healthcare delivery system.

Cautionary note: my comments in this series will assume that HIStalk readers have at least a baseline knowledge in all things “Seinfeld.” I apologize in advance to the two or three folks out there who have not seen (or heaven forbid, did not like) “Seinfeld.”

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All I Needed to Know to Disrupt Healthcare I Learned from “Seinfeld”: Part II – And YOU Want To Be My Latex Salesman

By | Blog

Upon being granted an interview with IBM while in business school for a chance at my first real job, my initial enthusiasm was slightly curbed by the fact that the position was to become a sales rep. With an undergraduate degree in finance and an MBA, I had imagined a career on Wall Street.

A sales rep? The vivid composite in my head was of some guy in a shiny suit, with a pinky ring and remarkable hair, trying to sell me something that I really did not need. Just like George Costanza’s dream of pretending to be an architect or a marine biologist before compromising to a desperate hope of an imaginary job as Jerry’s latex salesman, I would have to reconcile the dream with reality.

My IBM sales school training quickly helped reorient my mindset with my new responsibilities as a marketing representative (I was relieved to hear that the dirty word “sales” was not in the official title). One of my first and most enduring lessons came at a meeting of the executive leadership team of a large hospital in New Orleans, my IBM regional executives, and me. As the conversation turned to a mention of a product I had just learned about in training, I enthusiastically interjected with the sales pitch I had recently memorized. The hospital COO interrupted me with the rebuke, “You don’t know what you don’t know. Please be quiet.” Ouch.

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All I Needed to Know to Disrupt Healthcare I Learned from “Seinfeld” (and “SNL”): Part III – Serenity Now

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Competition. A foundational element that drives greater success in a capitalistic society. And yet, examination of the array of perceptions and reactions regarding one’s competitors in business is both fascinating and revealing.

As we get to know an entrepreneur and assess a prospective investment, an important insight is their response to the multidimensional question, “How do you view your competition?”

How an entrepreneur expresses awareness, insights, differentiation, and honesty in recognition of competition can illuminate market opportunity, commercial viability, and personal credibility. Do you deny, dismiss, disparage, or do you choose to recognize and embrace others in your space? How does that answer vary when discussing competition internally or externally? Does the stress of competition drive your organization to catalyze improvement or to react with paralyzing stress?

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All I Needed to Know to Disrupt Healthcare I Learned from “Seinfeld”: Part IV – Are You the Master of Your Domain?

By | Blog

Was it Freud or Costanza who once said, “The ego is not master in its own house”? Ah yes, Sigmund Freud. Costanza said something else about being master of one’s domain. George Costanza also once rebuked George Steinbrenner for destroying the institution of the New York Yankees “all for the glorification of your massive ego”.

For an entrepreneur, ego is both a critical ingredient in the recipe to build success as well as a foundational risk to predestine failure. A keen self-awareness of when to intentionally fortify one’s ego versus the appropriate time to acknowledge the fine line between self-confidence and pride in order to relinquish one’s ego may dictate your fate as an early stage company.

Today we will discuss the importance of knowing when to have an ego … and its corollary of knowing when to check your ego.

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All I Needed to Know to Disrupt Healthcare I Learned from “Seinfeld”: Part V – Yada Yada Yada

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Most every company talks about their elevator pitch, which is intended to be a brief summation of the business to intrigue one to want to learn more. My question is this: exactly how long are the elevator rides some people are taking? More broadly, in any sort of business interaction, how to you best balance brevity vs. meaty detail?

The Webster’s definition of the phrase “yada yada” is “boring or empty talk often used interjectionally, especially in recounting words regarded as too dull or predictable to be worth repeating.” Anyone still recovering from the HIMSS conference can likely recall many conversations where yada yada would have been a very welcomed interjection.

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