Providence Health System Launches $150 Million Fund to Spur Tech Innovation

Seattle-based Providence Health & Services plans to fuel budding innovations across its health care system with the launch of a $150 million venture capital fund geared toward assisting early-stage companies.

Improving quality and convenience of care, along with lowering costs, is at the heart of the initiative for Providence, a non-profit Catholic health care ministry whose system encompasses 34 hospitals, 475 physician clinics, home health, hospice, supportive housing and many other senior services.

Providence Ventures will invest $150 million over five to seven years in innovations across its system, specifically targeting early- to mid-stage companies that focus on six core areas: online primary care access, care coordination and patient engagement, chronic disease management, clinician experience, data analytics and consumer health and wellness services.

The health system, which employes more than 74,000 people across five states—Alaska, California, Montana, Oregon and Washington—also plans to provide its invested companies with access to its continuum of care, as well as clinicians and experts.

Providence Ventures is led by Aaron Martin, senior vice president of strategy and innovation, who joined Providence earlier this year from Amazon, where he built the company’s self-publishing and print on demand business and led content acquisition for the Kindle’s North American trade publishing business.

“Consumers will demand more value, quality and convenience from the health care provider they choose just as they do with any other aspect of their lives,” said Martin in a statement. “At Providence, we’re looking both inside and outside of health care for innovations that can be applied to create a better health care system and healthier communities.”

In additional efforts to support the venture fund endeavors, Providence has created its own internal Digital Innovation Group, which will build the technology and processes needed to support collaborations with early-stage companies, develop a consistent customer- and clinician-facing experience, as well as target areas for innovation where there are gaps in the technology marketplace.

“We are marrying the cultures of software innovation with health care delivery to create big ideas, build them using small-batch innovations and learn quickly in a rigorous, data-driven way,” said Martin. “Traditionally, collaborating with health care providers around digital technology has been difficult. We aim to change that by building a technical infrastructure and team that will make it easier for early-stage technology companies to collaborate with us so that we can improve health care delivery faster.”

Providence is already underway on funding and collaborating with early-stage innovators—an initiative of mission-driven innovation that is, after all, rooted in the heritage of the organization, said Rod Hochman, M.D., president and CEO of Providence Health & Services.

“We have to find better solutions faster if we are going to help people access higher quality, lower cost care in a more convenient way,” Hochman said in a statement. “Consumers want quality and convenience, competitive costs and better health outcomes. We aren’t going to find real change through the traditional lends of health system practices that only improve things incrementally. We need to change faster.”

Written by Jason Oliva

Jason Oliva