Introducing Praia Health: Q&A with CEO Justin Dearborn


In this article:

  • Praia Health, a health technology incubated at Providence, officially launched in October to enable health systems to create more personalized online health care experiences for patients.

  • This new company is the fourth such tech solution grown within Providence’s Digital Innovation Group (DIG).

  • Read on to learn more about how Praia Health is changing the way health systems engage with patients.

Praia Health is the latest technology coming out of Providence’s Digital Innovation Group (DIG). This pioneering technology is coming to the market to remove barriers to patient care by personalizing their health journeys and connecting them to products, services and resources that support their overall health.

The need for improved digital solutions within healthcare is clear. Health care is one of the most technically complex environments to innovate within because of its complicated data, privacy, and regulatory environment. As consumers increasingly turned to digital solutions to manage their health during the COVID-19 pandemic, including the massive adoption of virtual care and telehealth — the problem was accelerated.

Praia Health enables health systems, for the first time, to marry clinical information with consumer information — enabling health systems to create digital experiences that show their whole relationship with the health system. Praia Health enables applications that coordinate clinical, insurance, support services, programs and resources through a single experience — easing the way for patients and health consumers and mirroring the experience consumers have come to expect with all of their non-healthcare digital engagements.

“The National Academy of Medicine estimates that medical care accounts for just 10-20% of impactable health outcomes,” says Justin Dearborn, executive-in-residence for Praia Health. “The rest comes from behavioral, socioeconomic, environmental and other factors. Those things don’t get addressed in a charted experience. In other words, your health care visits are important, but they aren’t everything.”

“You’re interacting with other health information throughout the year, so the question becomes how can we make this a frictionless experience for patients?” says Dearborn.

“This type of engagement is where health care is headed as folks get more accustomed to hyper-personalized technologies in different parts of their lives.”

A digital-first patient solution

The idea for Praia Health was born from this need for personalized, frictionless health care experiences that meet patients where they are.

“Health systems know they need to be more patient-friendly in their digital experiences,” says Dearborn. “Rather than being transactional, we’re asking questions like, ‘How can Providence use digital channels to stay engaged with patients before, during and after clinical visits?’ We know that the average patient seeks care from five different health care service providers in one year. We need to help them connect the dots — help them understand and utilize disparate services — informed by our medical expertise.”

Praia Health aims to touch all aspects of the consumer and patient experience and bring them together in a single interface — one that is connected to patients’ electronic medical records. That includes integrating individual solutions and apps, such as the chronic care management solutions, the medical record, pharmacy management and fitness apps, together in a single platform. The platform can prioritize different functionality, such as alerts that you’re due for your yearly physical or that there is a new fitness center in your area.

“Forward-thinking health systems are being thoughtful about the digital experience because we know that more than 50% of patients will switch providers because of a bad digital experience,” says Dearborn. “Praia Health allows health systems to be the consumer’s first choice and compete in this environment by bringing services, products and resources patients need to the forefront in a hyper-personalized way. We’re building ongoing relationships with patients this way.”

Proven at Providence

Praia Health is the fourth health technology DIG has developed internally. Incubated for four years, the platform has been deployed for the last two years within Providence. Now, Dearborn is leading the commercialization of the company, expanding beyond the walls of Providence to other health systems.

“The way Providence and DIG incubate ideas is really unique and well-received in the market,” says Dearborn. “While 2023 has not been the best time to grow startups, Providence has defied the trend and has investors who are on board with us. Because Providence has successfully done this before, they carry weight in the market.”

That experienced team, led by Sara Vaezy, executive vice president and chief strategy and digital officer for Providence, used its talents to grow Praia Health. As for Praia Health’s leader, Dearborn spent the majority of his career in health tech, including, most recently at pre-revenue and seed-stage startups.

Entering growth mode

Being home-grown within Providence has advantages for a budding technology company. Praia Health has already proven its solution with more than 3 million users throughout Providence, and that success is breeding confidence among investors who can finance them to support further growth.

“Support from Providence brings proof points about return on investment,” says Dearborn. “The brand and reputation make a difference to prospective health system customers and investors.”

Next up for Praia Health is expanding and engaging its customer base, including making sure those early adopters are raving fans of the platform. Dearborn anticipates that Praia Health’s early customers will be other health systems who recognize the problem of personalizing patients’ health journeys and engaging outside of physician visits.

Like other Providence spinouts, Praia Health will continue to collaborate tightly with the health system.

“We’ve seen the other Providence-incubated companies continue to have positive relationships with Providence as they’ve grown,” says Dearborn. “This is a solution that is never done. We’ll continue to enable new functionality for patients and health consumers.”

“The great thing about health care is that folks want to share great ideas because everyone is mission-aligned on providing great outcomes for patients,” says Dearborn. “The best part of being a vendor in health care is finding these better outcomes.”  

Contributing Caregiver



Justin Dearborn, executive-in-residence, Praia Health 

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Related resources

Generative AI: The next frontier of health care

Death by pilot: How to drive healthcare innovation that scales

Growing from within: Why Providence incubates tech companies

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

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