Providence Plans to Spin Out a New Patient Engagement Startup, Marking Its 4th Incubated Company

Providence Plans to Spin Out a New Patient Engagement Startup, Marking Its 4th Incubated Company
Providence Plans to Spin Out a New Patient Engagement Startup, Marking Its 4th Incubated Company

In late September, Providence’s chief strategy and digital officer, Sara Vaezy, told MedCity News that hospitals should take a page out of Amazon’s digital engagement playbook and create deeper, more sustained relationships with their consumers. In order for health systems to “not be commoditized fully,” they must collect data to know their patients’ behaviors better and reach out with proactive, personalized communication, she argued.

Fast forward a couple weeks later, and Providence has unveiled a homegrown technology that seeks to forge these deeper relationships with patients. On Monday, the health system announced plans to spin off Praia Health, a platform seeking to build stronger relationships with patients by personalizing their healthcare journeys and connecting them to relevant resources and services.

Praia is currently wholly owned by Providence, but the health system plans to spin off the startup during the first quarter of next year. When that happens, Providence will transition to a commercial relationship with Praia as an investor and customer, Justin Dearborn said in an interview. Dearborn is a startup veteran who Providence hired to lead Praia once it spins off.

Providence started developing the Praia platform four years ago and started implementing the technology within its health system in January of last year. The platform currently supports more than 3 million user accounts.

The platform is centered around patent-pending identity technology that seeks to unify fragmented data sources and point solutions to give health systems a more accurate picture of their patients’ health. The need to connect these dots is getting more urgent by the day, as patients are increasingly seeking care at alternative care sites, Dearborn pointed out. 

He noted that the average healthcare consumer uses five different healthcare brands a year. For instance, they get the primary care wherever they can, they might go to a standalone clinic for urgent care needs, and they may use a pharmacy delivery service. With this in mind, hospitals can’t rely solely on their clinical records to give them a complete picture of their patients’ health, Dearborn said.

One of the platform’s most important components is that it establishes a single sign-on for patients, he declared. Once a person’s log-in information is verified on the Praia platform, they can use that same ID whenever they seek care through any other apps their health system offers, which reduces friction for patients and could make them more engaged in their health journey, Dearborn explained. 

Additionally, Praia ingests patient data to deliver personalized recommendations — sometimes clinical and sometimes not. For instance, the platform can encourage patients to get a mammogram, or it could give them information about joining a fitness center in their area.

“At a high level, the platform is designed to engage with the patient on the patient’s terms and serve up relevant, personalized content to the patient,” Dearborn declared.

After it spins out, Praia will sell its platform to health systems using a SaaS model that is priced by the organization’s number of patient records, he said.

When it enters the market, Praia will be competing with other companies promising to boost patient engagement, such as League, b.well and Clear. Dearborn argued that Praia will be able to differentiate itself from other companies in the space due to the depth of its platform and the fact that it was built at a health system.

Praia marks the fourth technology incubation spun out of Providence’s Digital Innovation Group. The previous three startups are Xealth, a startup seeking to simplify the integration of digital tools into providers’ workflows; Circle, a women’s health app that was acquired by Wildflower Health in 2018; and DexCare, which offers a platform designed to help health systems coordinate and manage digital care services.

Photo: mathisworks, Getty Images

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