Startup Insider: Verato

Verato entered the healthcare scene in 2012, knowing that EHRs only go so far in harmonizing a patient's identity.

Healthcare needed a better way to link a patient's medical records across providers and disparate systems. So Verato, a cloud-based service for patient identity resolution and medical records linking, set out to solve the problem. The company developed a complete and accurate picture of a patient's care profile across EHR systems, regardless of whether their names, addresses or other personal information was incorrect or out-of-date.

"Hospitals, doctors, clinics, testing facilities, all have patient information, but they can't tie it directly to a particular patient," Verato CEO Mark LaRow says. "Between hospital systems, we connect patient identities and records."

Mr. LaRow spoke with Becker's Hospital Review about what it was like lead a startup in healthcare and why patient matching is important for providers.

Note: Interview has been lightly edited for length and clarity.

Question: How was the company started?

Mark LaRow: The founder and the now chief technology officer started the company having previously been the chief technology officer of consumer credit reporting agency Equifax. At Equifax, he was exposed to identity databases and how they are prone to a vast array of errors. He was frustrated by the quality of identity information from the credit rating agencies and, then secondly, he himself experienced an onset of a number of medical issues, and was completely frustrated by the medical system not being able to track him well through all his providers. So, he started Verato back in 2012. He's a former military member and submarine officer, so our first customers were the Department of Defense and Veterans Health Administration's medical systems.

Q: What specific need within the industry did you hope to address by founding Verato?

ML: We wanted to provide a better master patient index capability, that's the core need that we're serving. Almost every healthcare institution, either through its purchase of a big EHR system or independent MPI software, has large patient databases with this capability. And, those MPIs do the best job they can at harmonizing a patient's identity. But they only do a partially good job of it. So the most important thing we're doing for healthcare systems is we're supplementing their master patient index technology so it does a much better job of linking patients to their medical records across a large hospital system.

The second thing we're doing is helping integrate patient records across EHRs as healthcare systems are expanding through merging with other healthcare systems. The third thing that we do pertains to big medical systems. These organizations, particularly ones that also have an accountable care organization operation, are trying to do much deeper analytics around patient care to optimize health management and better outcomes. So, these ACOs, the only way that they work well is if they can combine data from Medicare, all the patient records across providers within the expanded health system, and even with health records sitting in other health systems. Combining all that medical information around a common patient is what I predict is going to become the biggest application for our software.

Q: What is the workplace culture like at Verato?

ML: We have a lot of open space where our developers are all sitting and collaborating. The executives are all in interior offices with big windows facing the developers and probably 25 percent of our floor space is a kitchen and meeting area. The company is definitely technology-focused. It's not a services-based company. It is software, and big data software, at that. Our technology and engineering is what run the company.

Q: What advantages or disadvantages does a startup company have in the healthcare industry today?

ML: Healthcare is undergoing so much change. On a positive note, this change creates opportunities for startups and existing companies alike. Spending in healthcare IT is going up at a dramatic compounded annual growth rate. The spending for IT is big and the array of different technologies being brought to the solution is broadening. So that seems like a positive dynamic, but for a small company, it means you have to cut through all of that noise and make yourself heard.

Q: What kind of expansion or growth do you project in the next couple of years?

ML: We're looking at 100 percent growth for the next couple of years. Even after that, we're talking about more than 50 percent growth annually. Our value proposition is simple. Because we're a cloud-based solution for something that's historically been on-premise software, we can be deployed much quicker, much cheaper. And soon as you've got that on your side where there's a lot of technology change, there's an easy uptake.


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