The Providence Digital Innovation Group: A force for positive change

Key takeaways:

  • The vision of the Digital Innovation Group is ‘Creating Health for a Better World.’
  • Providence began this effort to accelerate digital options in the healthcare space.
  • Three independent companies that improve access to care have been successfully incubated by the Digital Innovation Group to date.

[3 MIN READ]

Reaching the vision of Health for a Better World is a daunting task. Healthcare efforts and advanced treatments are not enough. It’s also about connecting with people on a deep level, helping them spiritually, mentally, emotionally and socially. The digital pioneers at Providence’s Digital Innovation Group (DIG) are using advanced digital technology to help reach that goal.

Providence started the DIG to expand the use of digital technology used in healthcare. Their goal is to disrupt the healthcare industry – in a good way – with innovation and replacement of the aspects that aren’t working with strategies that make a difference.

We've put together a series of articles highlighting the group's accomplishments and exploring their role in improving the healthcare offered at Providence. This month we'll share a look at how the team got its start, the process they use to determine which issues to tackle and what they hope to accomplish in the future.

A force for positive change

Providence founded DIG in 2014 with one goal in mind—to transform healthcare using digital solutions that directly address ongoing challenges like access to equitable care, limited availability and scheduling complexities. That goal seeks to impact patients, clinicians, communities and the strength of Providence as a whole. Over the last seven years, the original team of software engineers, marketers and investors has grown to about 200 people. The teams are split into five groups that report to Chief Digital Officer, Aaron Martin. Leadership includes an in-house product development team and a recently added Entrepreneur-in-Residence program.

Each team within DIG has a different focus but they all align with one goal — easing the way of those who entrust us with their care, especially the vulnerable communities who often bear the brunt of healthcare inequities.

Each team within DIG has a different focus but they all align with one goal — easing the way of those who entrust us with their care, especially the vulnerable communities who often bear the brunt of healthcare inequities. The teams look for ways to use technology to improve care by expanding the virtual options and the digital tools that ease access. Online appointment scheduling, telehealth visits and personalized options are a just a few examples of what they make possible. And, although the tools and technology they build are complex, they never forget that real people are counting on them to make it easier to get the healthcare that every human deserves.

From its inception in the 1800s, Providence has always been a ‘pioneer’ in its own way, looking to find new ways of serving and caring for people. So, it’s not a complete surprise that Providence President and CEO Rod Hochman had both a vision for how healthcare could change and the understanding that in fact, it had to change in order to survive.

Listen to Hochman and Martin discuss the longstanding values and evolving strategies that have kept the system at the forefront of U.S. healthcare for so long, and their plans to build on that history.

Using innovation for invention

Step one of the development process at DIG is identifying problems and determining whether a digital answer offers the best solution. Then they examine the technology currently in use at Providence and whether it can be adapted to solve the issue. If not, they look outside the organization. If they still can’t find what they need, the team either builds it themselves or forms a partnership with another organization.

“If you know our brand promise, it’s “Know me, care for me and ease my way.” And that’s been with us for a long time. But think about those words. If you were a patient, isn’t that the kind of journey you’d want you to be taken on? That experience is our ultimate goal. It’s really defining it in words,” says Hochman, in the podcast linked above.

Products that perform successfully by improving access to care are then launched as a new business. This ensures that DIG can focus on developing much-needed solutions instead of maintaining existing products that don’t serve their needs.

Redefining digital through disruption

Improving the digital solutions available through Providence helps reduce typical healthcare inefficiencies, unnecessary complexities and an ironically unfriendly patient experience. To date, three independent companies have sprung from their beginnings at DIG:

  • Circle was purchased by family health company Wildflower Health in 2018. The app helps families manage their healthcare needs with one easy-to-use program.
  • Xealth helps patients manage the health tools available to them.
  • DexCare is an innovative technology that allows patients to access healthcare, make appointments and receive follow-up care based on their health needs, preferences, location and schedule.

In the future, health systems will be a lot more than sick care. They have to be. If they don’t, we’re going to be inconsequential in healthcare.

“One of the things that we’ve really got to do is make sure that we make access, convenience and engagement a key focus of what the organization does,” Martin says in the podcast. In the future, health systems will be a lot more than sick care. They have to be. If they don’t, we’re going to be inconsequential in healthcare. And so, we have to be constantly engaged with our consumers and our patients ideally as continuously as possible.”

Has #DigitalInnovation transformed your healthcare experiences with easier access to the services you need? Share your experience with readers @providence.

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Find a doctor

The technology pioneers at the Digital Innovation Group are dedicated to making healthcare accessible, equitable and broadly available. Through Providence Express Care Virtual, you can access a full range of healthcare services. If you need to find a doctor, you can use our provider directory or search for one in your area.

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Related resources

Get relevant, up-to-date information on the coronavirus (COVID-19) from Providence.

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2021 Digital Opportunities and Priorities for Health Systems

Funding Solutions, Not Vendors is the Key to Innovating Healthcare

Creating Patient Engagement Through Personalized Consumer Health

This information is not intended as a substitute for professional medical care. Always follow your healthcare professional's instructions.

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