How Providence’s Digital Innovation Team Tweaked Existing Technology to Combat COVID-19

March 19, 2021

// By Althea Fung //

Althea FungCOVID-19 has disrupted American healthcare — killing more than half a million people, including more than 2,900 healthcare workers; challenging bed and equipment capacity; and canceling elective health services. But it also has sped up digital transformation of healthcare and brought to the forefront innovative approaches to how patients receive care.

Providence, a Seattle-based 51-hospital system with services across Alaska, California, Montana, New Mexico, Oregon, Texas, and Washington state, is on the frontlines of digital transformation. With a dedicated software development team, innovative digital strategies, and more than $300 million to invest in the future of health tech, Providence is battling COVID through technology.

Disrupting from Within

Long before the pandemic, Providence leadership decided it was time to take a swim into the tech pool. In 2014, Providence hired Aaron Martin — a veteran in the tech industry who led the digital revolution in the publishing world when his team at Amazon introduced the Kindle e-reader — to serve as senior vice president of strategy and innovation.

Aaron Martin, executive vice president and chief digital and innovation officer, Providence

“Rod Hochman, MD, our CEO, and Mike Butler, our former president and COO who is now retired, saw two horizons ahead of where they were,” says Martin, now executive vice president and chief digital and innovation officer in charge of digital, marketing, and ventures for Providence. “They saw if we as a health system didn’t disrupt ourselves using digital technology, sooner or later big tech would figure out that healthcare is a massive industry and come in and do so themselves.”

Martin quickly assembled a team of more than 100 software developers from Amazon, Microsoft, and other Seattle-based tech companies. He didn’t stop there.

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