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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How Mobile Device Policies Must Focus on Controlling Contamination

Rhonda Collins

Guest post by Rhonda Collins, MSN, RN, chief nursing officer of Vocera.

Studies show that cell phones can carry more bacteria than a toilet seat. This is a disturbing topic for anyone, but should be duly noted by those of us in healthcare. With hospital cell phone policies changing, it’s crucial that we focus on infection control as a priority for any mobile communication device in the hospital. A Spyglass Consulting Group survey revealed that regardless of a hospital’s device policy, staff nurses are using personal smartphones to support clinical communications and workflow. In addition, a whopping 51 percent of hospitals plan to invest in or evaluate their smartphone solutions over the next 18 months.

This movement toward a more mobile healthcare workforce is an exciting change that will allow clinicians to become more connected to both patients and colleagues. While this change will make a sizeable impact on the way that hospitals operate, devices that are surrounded by the sickest patients are of greater concern as they can transfer bacteria both to and from the patient. This poses potential harm to everyone in the environment.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) found that one out of every 25 hospital patients contracts a healthcare-associated infection (HAI). This means that about 722,000 patients face hospital acquired infections annually. The most common HAI that hospitals are seeing today include pneumonia (22 percent), surgical site infections (22 percent), gastrointestinal infections (17 percent), urinary tract infections (13 percent) and bloodstream infections (10 percent), all urgent and uncomfortable situations that pose a major threat to patient safety.

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Thoughts and Images from HIMSS14 Day 2

Day 2 at HIMSS14 was much the same as day 1: Lots of walking, talking and great meetings with great organizations. I can’t thank enough vendors like Verisk Health, Omnicell, Amazing Charts and SAS for the great information they’ve shared, and for the perspectives about the market, trends and what’s ahead (and what’s behind).

Electronic health records are now foundational, and in many cases, they’ve lost their sex appeal. Though there’s an obvious and huge presence by them here, this year’s HIMSS doesn’t seem to have the same energy around the technology, from my point-of-view, that they did two or three years ago, for obvious reasons. Though their importance is still great, as we all know, other issues are taking center stage. ICD-10 is the obvious elephant in the room.

“Risk” is the biggest buzz word I’ve heard here in Orlando. I’ve heard it dozens of times. “Patient engagement” seems overcooked, according to those I’ve spoken to; an aspirational concept, yes, but actionable in an an entirely different story. Lofty goals and strategy, fewer practical best practices approaches for proceeding.

Patient engagement has only just begun, or at least is just developing past its infancy, and I look forward to seeing how it matures as a concept. Remember, just a couple years ago, those with vested interest claim patient portals would solve the ever elusive patient engagement issue. Portals clearly have not done so. Why would they? I remain skeptical that the actual patient is at the heart of this conversation rather how a systems can implement “best practices.” We’ll see, I suppose.

That said, HIMSS14 remains a wonderful experience and I’m glad to be here and meeting some wonderful people. I look forward to what today brings. Likely, more walking!

Here are some images I captured from Day 2.

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Images from the HIMSS14 Trade Show Floor

HIMSS by the numbersTravelers through the trade show floor at HIMSS14 continue to find themselves in the city of senses that is the HIMSS conference. From flashy devices, bright lights, loud music, champagne by the glass and interesting architecture, in many ways this show reminds me of the last time the show was in Orlando. Same energy and excitement, and much the same feel from the show floor. Though it seems like little has changed from the exhibitor perspective, it’s still a nearly overwhelming experience here.

This year, more than 35,500 are here in Orlando, up from 32,500 last year.

The following are some images of the more than 1,200 vendors at the show.

Alere has one of the most visually interesting booths at the show:


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Vendors I’ll Be Checking Out At HIMSS14

The following is a list of organizations I’ll personally be visiting with at HIMSS14, along with several others. Each has a compelling story and I’m looking forward to learning more about them.

Any thoughts on who you think I might be missing, or have overlooked?


AirStrip provides a complete, vendor and data source agnostic enterprise-wide clinical mobility solution, which enables clinicians to improve the health of individuals and populations. With deep clinical expertise and strong roots in mobile technology and data integration, AirStrip is empowering the nation’s leading health systems as the industry continues to evolve to new business models, accountable care and shared risk. Based in San Antonio, Texas, AirStrip allows health systems to unlock the full potential of their existing technology investments with a complete mobility solution that provides access to critical patient data across the care continuum. AirStrip is backed by investments from Sequoia Capital, Qualcomm, Inc., Hospital Corporation of America (HCA) and the Wellcome Trust. AirStrip’s customers includes HCA, Texas Health Resources, Vanguard Health Systems (part of Tenet Healthcare Corporation), Dignity Health and Ardent Health Services.



Allscripts delivers the insights that healthcare providers require to generate world-class outcomes. The company’s Electronic Health Record, practice management and other clinical, revenue cycle, connectivity and information solutions create a Connected Community of Health for physicians, hospitals and post-acute organizations.



Axial’s products improve the quality of patient care, and reduce the cost of providing it, by credentialing the most qualified providers, delivering point of care decision support tools, and utilizing a 360-degree cloud-based predictive model to stratify risk and quantify outcomes. Axial furthers the IHI Triple Aim of driving healthcare value by developing cost-effective, quality-based treatment pathways combined with seamless IT and workflow integration.


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