Providence Launches $150 Million Venture Capital Fund 

Sept. 16, 2014
For more information: Colleen Wadden, Senior Director, External Communication (206) 979-1620 or colleen.wadden@providence.org

Providence Health & Services Launches $150 Million Venture Capital Fund

Providence aims to advance health care delivery through funding technology innovations and building a digital platform to make it easier to collaborate with early-stage companies

SEATTLE – Providence Health & Services today announced the launch of a venture capital fund aimed at driving innovations across the health care system to improve quality and convenience, lower cost and create better health outcomes.

“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,” said Rod Hochman, MD, president and CEO of Providence Health & Services. “Consumers want quality and convenience, competitive costs and better health outcomes. We aren’t going to find real change through the traditional lens of health system practices that only improve things incrementally. We need to change faster.”

Providence Ventures will invest $150 million over five to seven years in innovations across the health care system that will improve patient care. The fund will target 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.

Providence offers services and expertise beyond the hospital setting, with primary and specialty care clinics, home health care, hospice, housing and more. Providence can add much more value than just capital to these collaborations: access for early-stage companies to the continuum of care and world-class clinicians and experts; and the ability to quickly implement innovations into care settings.

Providence Ventures is led by Aaron Martin, senior vice president of strategy and innovation. Martin joined Providence in early 2014 from Amazon, where he built their self-publishing and print on demand business and led content acquisition for the Kindle unit’s North American trade publishing business.

“Consumers are now comparison-shopping, reading reviews, and purchasing health care online. This trend will only accelerate as it has in every other industry. 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. “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. We are excited to be leading this change in our region.”

To support the venture fund endeavors, Providence is taking a unique approach and creating its own internal Digital Innovation Group. This group will build the technology and processes needed to support collaborations with early-stage companies, develop a consistent customer- and clinician-facing experience, and innovate in areas where there are gaps in the technology marketplace. Health care traditionally has been a consumer of information technology. This approach will allow Providence to no longer just buy ideas, but also build innovations.

“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.”

Funding and collaboration with early-stage innovators is already underway and Providence has built the internal Digital Innovation Group, pulling from not just top health care industry experts, but also from industries that have already made great strides in consumer-driven technology. To lead the digital effort, Providence has hired Mark Long as vice president of digital innovation, most recently from Amazon, and previously the chief technology officer of Zynx Health and a former NASA engineer.

“This is a part of our heritage,” said Dr. Hochman. “The Sisters of Providence, who came to the Pacific Northwest 158 years ago, were innovators and advocates of the belief that health care is a basic human right. At Providence, we carry on this tradition of mission-driven innovation.”

About Providence Health & Services
Providence Health & Services is a not-for-profit Catholic health care ministry committed to providing for the needs of the communities it serves – especially for those who are poor and vulnerable. Providence's services include 34 hospitals, 475 physician clinics, senior services, supportive housing, hospice, home health and many other health and educational services. The health system and its affiliates employs more than 74,000 people across five states – Alaska, California, Montana, Oregon and Washington – with its system office located in Renton, Washington. In 2013, Providence provided more than $951 million in community benefit, including $313 million in free and discounted care for those who could not afford to pay for care. Providence Health & Services continues a tradition of caring that the Sisters of Providence began more than 158 years ago.