Providence spins off Amazon-like healthcare personalization startup

Renton, Wash.-based Providence has spun off a digital health startup after it received a $20 million investment.

Praia Health, which was developed at the health system, launched as an independent company April 2 and picked up its first health system client outside of Providence.

Praia Health provides digital personalization and patient engagement software for health systems' apps and websites.

"The classic example of this is how Amazon's front page or homepage looks different for each individual based on your purchase history, based on where you live in the country, the services that you've consumed. And so this is the healthcare version of that," Sara Vaezy, chief strategy and digital officer of Providence, told Becker's. "It's obviously much more mission-critical than just selling people crayons and stuff."

Praia Health spun off after closing on a $20 million oversubscribed series A financing round. The funding was led by Frist Cressey Ventures, which was co-founded by former U.S. Sen. Bill Frist, MD, and also included Providence Ventures, the health system's venture capital arm.

Providence incubated the startup as part of its Digital Innovation Group, and has been using it for its own app and website the past two years. The company's first outside health system client will be Community Health Network, a five-hospital organization based in Indianapolis.

"The whole idea is to make receiving care and getting access as seamless to you, the patient, as possible," said Andy Chu, senior vice president of product and technology incubation for the Providence Digital Innovation Group. "We're no longer just bound by the four walls of the hospital."

A patient can log into their health system's app or website, schedule an in-person or virtual visit, and get push notifications for needed care, Mr. Chu explained. Praia powers the technology that makes all those connections possible, whether that's with Epic's EHR or the 17 digital health companies the platform is integrated with.

Praia Health uses identity services and a single sign-in so all of a patient's data can be in the same place.

At Providence, Praia Health has had over 4 million users and created approximately $20 million in value through reduced redundancies, improved patient conversion and engagement, and operational efficiencies through increased self-service, Ms. Vaezy said.

"Really what it's doing, at the end of the day, is increasing the value that you're generating back from patients and reducing the need to continually pay to reacquire patients," said Doug Grapski, a former Providence digital staffer who joined Praia Health as vice president of strategy and operations. "So you're really driving that retention of those patients back to the health system and doing it in a much more efficient manner."

Providence will maintain a founding ownership stake, and Ms. Vaezy will serve on the startup's board. Twenty-seven Providence employees are departing to work for the startup.

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