Health IT Thought Leader Highlight: Brent Lang, CEO, Vocera

Brant Lang
Brent Lang

Brent D. Lang has served as the president and chief executive officer, and a board member, of Vocera since June 2013. Since joining the company in 2001, Lang has played a role in transforming Vocera from a startup to a publicly traded corporation with more than 380 employees and revenues exceeding $100 million.

Prior to being named CEO, he was the company’s president and chief operating officer and a member of the team that led Vocera’s successful IPO in March 2012. During his tenure with Vocera, he also has served as the company’s vice president of marketing and business development for more than five years, spearheading the initial business plan and the development of product and go-to market strategies.

Before joining Vocera, Lang was the senior director of marketing at 3Com Corporation, and was a strategy consultant for Monitor Company, advising Fortune 500 companies. He graduated summa cum laude from the University of Michigan with a bachelor’s degree in industrial and operational engineering before earning an MBA from Stanford University Graduate School of Business. While at the University of Michigan, he was a member of the 1988 U.S. Olympic Swimming Team and won a Gold Medal in the 4×100 freestyle relay at the summer Olympics in Seoul, South Korea.

Here, he discusses Vocera’s mission; how the company serves the healthcare market; how health reforms are impacting businesses; making healthcare communications more efficient; and his vision for the future.

Describe how your background gave you the tools to start/run a communications technology company like Vocera.

In retrospect, my background is a perfect fit for Vocera. First, my industrial engineering degree helped me understand process workflows and how to apply the right technologies to human collaboration and communication challenges, which was a natural link to the problems Vocera looks to address. My technology background helps me understand what we’d need to do with the Vocera products, and the workflow aspect helps me understand our customers’ challenges.

I (worked) at Monitor Company, a strategy consulting firm, which provided me with formal training in understanding customer requirements and defining markets and product strategy.  After that, I attended Stanford University to get my MBA, which was focused on entrepreneurship and strategy. I then worked at 3Com, which provided solid knowledge of the networking and wireless space – all of which has proved immensely valuable in helping to grow Vocera.

My athletic background as an Olympic swimmer has also played a big role in my development. Growing and running a company takes hard work and determination – most startups are not primed for immediate success – and as a competitive athlete you learn that there are no shortcuts to the top; you have to put in time and effort over many years to reach your peak. Many professionals focus on the end point of where they will take their business, but the thousands of hours you put in are what drive you to that point – so there is a strong correlation between competing in sports and succeeding in business.

Tell me about Vocera. What does it do and who does it serve, specifically?

Vocera delivers integrated, intelligent, secure communication solutions that enable the flow of information from one care provider to another in real-time, and allows them to act on that information at the point of care, throughout their entire healthcare experience. Our range of solutions allows care professionals to instantly connect patients with the care and resources they need, helping prevent treatment delays and increasing operational efficiency throughout the hospital.

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Health IT Thought Leader Highlight: Joanne Rohde, CEO and founder, Axial Exchange

Joanne Rhode
Joanne Rhode

Joanne Rohde is the chief executive officer and co-founder of Axial Exchange. She brings 30 years of experience to her role and has grown companies using “disruptive business models.” Prior to Axial Exchange, she served as the COO and director of health IT strategy at Red Hat, as well as was the CIO of UBS Investment Banking IT. She’s passionate about healthcare because it’s personal; healthcare is a personal business and with the advent of patient engagement, healthcare is even more so personal than its ever been.

Here she discusses the reasoning for her venturing into to healthcare and Axial’s creation, the company’s mission, what “patient engagement” is to her, how “patient engagement” is changing healthcare and Axial’s solution set. Finally, she addresses what she feels are the most pressing issues facing the healthcare as a whole. Her perspectives are deeply insightful; the following is well worth the read.

Can you tell us about yourself and your background prior to starting Axial Exchange? Why healthcare?

I spent most of my career in finance and technology. If I had a personal tagline, it would be that I like to build disruptive businesses in old industries. I did this in finance, with a company called O’Connor and Associates, which brought derivatives and computers to the financial industry when derivatives were still used to hedge real transactions. Then at Red Hat, we brought the benefits of open source to the enterprise, revolutionizing the software industry. Healthcare is one of the most inefficient industries in our country, and it affects every one of us. It is ripe for disruption.

What was your motivation in starting Axial Exchange? Perhaps you can tell me more about your entrepreneurial spirit and journey. Do you have other plans for new business lines in the works presently?

I was COO of a rapidly growing global technology company, Red Hat, when I became ill. Over the course of two years I became too sick to walk up a flight of stairs. I was in constant pain, and couldn’t speak properly. It took two years and 10 doctors to properly diagnose me. As I went from doctor to doctor, it became clear that I was starting over with each doctor — they couldn’t share information, and that lack of information sharing made it difficult for them and for me. It was also apparent that when I would go into their offices, they’d take tests and check symptoms, but they were point-in-time analysis — if I had a bad situation a week prior, it wouldn’t be captured. It occurred to me that my story was in part every American’s story and the current system frustrated both doctors and patients alike.

We are just at the beginning of what we can do to improve the patient-doctor experience. The rapid advances of wearable devices is our current area of focus. We want patients to understand their own health patterns, and to securely share that key biometric information with their physicians so each appointment can be fact-based, not “recall” based. Our next area of focus is real-time case management. What if you could get in touch with a recently released cardiac patient precisely when they were at the most risk instead of waiting for a crisis that lands them back in the hospital? These kind of timely, specific interventions can be a reality with the integration of our application back to the care managers.

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