How Providence St. Joseph Health is investing in technology, innovation in 2019

The past 30 days have been busy for Renton, Wash.-based Providence St. Joseph Health's technology and innovation departments.

On June 27, Providence St. Joseph Health acquired Bluetree, an Epic consulting and strategy firm. The health system already owned Engage, an EHR solutions company that provides consulting for Meditech. Bluetree has more than 140 health system clients and is now a subsidiary of Providence St. Joseph Health System.

The health system launched Microsoft Azure and some of the technology giant's artificial intelligence tools to assist in the management of its EHR data on July 8. The partnership also gives Providence St. Joseph Health clinicians access to Microsoft Teams for streamlined messaging, video meetings and conferencing.

On July 10, Providence St. Joseph Health CEO Rod Hochman unveiled a further partnership with Microsoft to build a high-tech hospital, dubbed a "hospital of the future." The partners have been working on the concept for months, which would adapt an existing facility for easier data sharing.

The health system's venture capital arm, Providence Ventures, also has continued projects to support innovation. In January, Providence Ventures closed on its second $150 million healthcare venture capital and growth equity fund, which focuses on early and growth-stage healthcare companies. Providence St. Joseph Health Executive Vice President and Chief Digital Officer Aaron Martin shared the strategy for Providence Ventures with Becker's Hospital Review in June.

"First and foremost, the team focuses on areas of strategic priority for the system — in other words, finding companies that address or solve the big problems that the organization is facing and wants to solve," he said. "In addition, they ensure that the fund has financial return targets that it aims to achieve with the portfolio of investments. By focusing on these large priorities, we believe we're defining a valuable market space, which will de-risk our investments." Read the full interview here.

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