After a year unlike any other, FUSE 2021 brought together and celebrated the accomplishments of the many healthcare heroes who have joined The Garage in our mission of changing healthcare for good through the power of value-based care. Held in the heart of New York City at the iconic Marriott Marquis in Times Square, the ninth annual FUSE welcomed 50 in-person and 300 virtual attendees, making it the first hybrid in-person/live-streamed event for The Garage.

"Scale," "impact," "partnership" and "passion" were themes repeated often throughout the day, as our crew and our partners reflected on the events and challenges of the past year in navigating the COVID-19 pandemic. As our CEO and founder Pranam Ben looked back at 2020 and the incredible efforts of the healthcare community, the importance of fully shifting to a VBC model became clearer than ever before. Pranam noted that it was “our opportunity and responsibility” to build a more self-sustaining community health system, and as he looked around the room, he saw the faces of healthcare leaders who have been tirelessly working to build that future.

Innovation and invention are essential to moving forward, and during FUSE, we detailed game-changing upgrades to Bridge, our comprehensive population health management platform. Bridge 5.2 introduces a unique, dynamic configurator, the Multi-Program Switch, which empowers users to switch views, toggling between groups of patients, regions, providers, payers or organizations to filter all the apps in the platform with a single click. Users can also drill down into specific subsets of data and, with hotspotting, take action to better balance care and spending for high-need patients.

"Bridge 5.2 will make our healthcare partners even more efficient, providing a cost-effective, higher standard of care for the communities they serve," remarked Pranam on the upgrade.

Some of the major upgrades to Bridge stemmed from the need for The Garage's healthcare partners to operate at scale to meet the unique demands of the COVID-19 pandemic and associated lockdowns. Two features – Blazecare Hub and Blazecare Scheduler – were developed to facilitate streamlined, two-way communication with patients via text message regarding appointment changes and COVID guidelines, as well as provide a simple way for patients to schedule appointments for vaccinations and determine their eligibility during the vaccine rollout.

"Our team was able to build the communicator part of Blazecare Hub in less than a week," Pranam said during his keynote address. "If you are going to succeed in VBC, you have to deliver at scale. If it doesn't scale, it doesn't exist."

During FUSE, we were thrilled to reveal that Healthix, the nation’s largest public HIE, is growing its partnership with The Garage in exciting new ways. Building upon our established role in Healthix’s Vendor Interoperability Program, we are collaborating with Healthix to launch Municipal – a new, turnkey population health management platform for maximizing HIE effectiveness. Municipal will be available to Healthix’s 2,000 members throughout New York this fall.

"By working with The Garage, we've realized that there is so much more we can do with our data for community care management, and with Municipal, we are offering a much-needed tool for making the clinical information in Healthix more useful and actionable," commented Tom Moore, Healthix's Senior Vice President, Innovation, on the partnership.

Integration with Municipal will be seamless and cost-effective for Healthix members, who can be up-and-running on the platform in just a day's time.

Throughout the day, FUSE attendees also learned about the positive impacts and heroic work of our partners in the communities they serve. In a very powerful presentation that moved everyone in the room to a standing ovation, Chairman of the Board and founder of New York’s SOMOS Community Care, Dr. Ramon Tallaj, spoke on his organization’s experience reimagining healthcare while on the frontlines of the pandemic.

When selected by the state as the first primary care network to receive the vaccine directly at their physicians’ medical offices, SOMOS worked quickly to vaccinate underserved New Yorkers while also managing a variety of pop-up vaccination sites – both large and small. SOMOS’ community commitment extended beyond these critical vaccinations. Through its value-based approach, the network saved enough money to also offer financial assistance and food to those who needed it most.

The amazing work of Collaborative Health Systems and Finger Lakes Independent Provider Association was also spotlighted as both organizations spoke on the power and importance of technology in building collaboration and providing a better experience for both providers and patients.

For our popular storylines session, our Customer Success Officer, Alex Choquette, and Directors of Customer Success, Nupur Desai and Maria Kordit, invited representatives of Community Care Collaborative of PA/NJ, Middletown Medical, Select Physician Associates and SOMOS to discuss changes that have made a difference for their organizations. Select Physician Associates COO Pawan Shah shared how Bridge has strengthened his group's ability to derisk through access to patient claims history, tracking of chronic conditions and improved selection of ICD-10 codes.

Alex later returned to the stage to host "Swim Upstream with Alex," an interactive discussion with several game changers who are moving the needle on VBC. Usually hosted as a virtual series for our customers, this special in-person edition of "Swim Upstream" featured insights from leaders with Community Health IPA, Complete Health and HCA Healthcare.

Chris Nikic, the first person with Down Syndrome to finish an Ironman triathlon, joined FUSE virtually to share his story of accomplishment and perseverance, and to inspire each of us with his “1% better each day” challenge. His remarkable journey as an athlete placed into perspective our own journey for VBC. Together, with each step we take, we are changing healthcare for good... one community at a time.

So, what's next? When tackling this question at FUSE, Pranam remarked that we are reimagining the future – "health 3.0" – by creating a digital-first healthcare system. Our tools must continue to be user-centric, mobile and cloud-based to meet the comprehensive and ever-evolving needs of our partners. Obsessed with our customers' success and driven by their examples and passion, The Garage's focus on innovation will only continue to grow, and as revealed during FUSE, we are working toward our own data R&D division. Simply put, we "always have our sights on the second mountain as we scale the first."

After a full day reflecting on the past year and looking toward the future, we celebrated that future with dinner and entertainment, including dance, music and comedic performances from The Garage’s multitalented crew. Reconnecting with so many of our valued partners in-person after the most challenging year, made FUSE 2021 the best FUSE yet.