The most exciting healthcare startups, per Providence's digital chief

Renton, Wash.-based Providence is on the forefront of digital transformation in the healthcare space and has a history of working with successful startups to revolutionize care delivery.


Sara Vaezy, executive vice president and chief digital officer at Providence, is most excited about technologies and startups that are focused on patient engagement and navigation to develop personalized content and information products and services to patients. There are many areas of healthcare that are ripe for disruption and innovation, she said, and many processes need modernization.

"I think there's a lot of strategic value in doubling down on how we think about disruption as anything that's consumer-facing," she said on the "Becker's Digital Health Podcast." "Consumer expectations are much more advanced and very different from how [patients] tend to be served today. With a lot of activity in the market, new types of nontraditional players coming in, the whole nature of how care is delivered is changing and there are a lot of consumer facing offerings out there. It's really important to continue to innovate aggressively and figure out ways to remain relevant for consumers."

She sees big potential in using artificial intelligence and machine learning to further refine the patient experience.

"AI for navigation is something that is starting to gain traction and has been underutilized historically for all sorts of reasons. But now we're seeing momentum build around it, and I think that's really exciting," she said.

Providence has also focused resources on developing multimodal patient care platforms integrating physical and virtual care, including telehealth and chat functions. Ms. Vaezy said the pandemic accelerated the demand for more coordinated care.

"Consumers are much more familiar with what some of these digital modalities are, and we are living in a multimodal world," Ms. Vaezy said. "How we can actually operationalize the delivery of care in a multimodal world is really fascinating and challenging. That is a space I think we're going to see more and more of activity around."

Last year, Providence Digital Innovation Group spun out a company, DexCare, a platform-as-a-service that orchestrates health system capacity and digital demand across service lines. DexCare has been successful so far and is now used by systems like Houston Methodist, Indianapolis-based Community Health Network and Milwaukee-based Froedtert Health to attract around 30 percent more new patients and capture five-times downstream revenue.

One more area Ms. Vaezy mentioned she is excited about is the intersection of health tech and fintech addressing issues such as consumer payments and financial planning. Digital wallets in healthcare are a big opportunity.

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