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Laurie McGraw is speaking with Inspiring Women Sara Vaezy, EVP and Chief Strategy and Digital Officer of Providence Health.
Sara believes that healthcare is a human right. Her career journey has always been directly in or adjacent to healthcare and her expertise is the digital space is widely recognized. While digital strategies for large scale health systems are both imperative and obvious today, they were less so pre-pandemic. Having been in the Chief Digital Strategy role for several years now, she may have been more prepared than others. However in today’s environment with fast moving macro changes, it is a work in progress! Sara is both excited and skeptical at times of the digital solutions available today. Importantly, she remains focused on how we are generating value with digital – both improving the patient experience and addressing affordability. This means working on solves for disconnected solutions, changing the value/profit distribution and addressing key issues with digital solutions. Today that means less about the technology itself and more focus on people, process and payment issues.
Hear Sara talk about:
- Digital as a transitional phase: We do not currently have a fully digital native population, but someday we will and we should plan for that.
- Her seat at the table: early on she was asked to “jump in with both feet” at Providence. Her mentor (also sponsor) brought her to the decision tables where risk-based trade offs were made. She knew this was an opportunity and made sure to leverage it.
- Side hustle: Sara is certainly an accomplished healthcare executive, but still finds that her family craft hot sauce business sustains her “whole being”. Spending times at farmer’s markets, being part of the maker community keeps her fresh and energized in different and important ways.
Inspiring Women Listeners Want to Know:
- Pants or pajamas? (what do you wear when you work at home):
Sweatpants, always sweatpants.
- First promo – did you ask for it?
I did ask for it!!! Saw a need, gathered data, made a proposal.
- Do you still seek new mentors today?
Yes, different people for different reasons. And some best advice…never be afraid of being fired.
- In 3-5 years, if you are not doing what you are doing now, what are you doing?
Either an Entrepreneur or Public service
Sara Vaezy is Executive Vice President and Chief Strategy and Digital Officer for Providence where she is responsible for system strategy and digital innovation for the integrated delivery network (IDN) which includes 52 hospitals and 1,085 clinics and serves over 5 million unique patients.
Sara brings deep experience to the organization in both digital and enterprise strategy development and leads system strategy, the ongoing development and evolution of Providence’s integrated strategic and financial plan and cross-collaboration of the Providence councils as Providence continues to advance toward and design the system of the future.
Sara is the architect of the Providence digital innovation model upon with the Digital Innovation Group (DIG) was founded, resulting in company partnerships and incubation of technologies that deliver value for Providence as well as other health systems. The model has resulted in the commercialization of three incubated technologies into independent companies from within DIG—all of which are supporting Providence in delivering on its mission and vision of health for a better world. Her framework for building and maintaining deep organizational relationships with stakeholders across the industry has resulted in partnerships with over 150 health system digital and innovation teams, venture capital organizations, industry analysts and influencers, and digital health organizations.
Before Providence, she was at The Chartis Group, a health care management consulting firm, where she advised clients on enterprise strategic planning, payer-provider partnership, and the development of population health companies. Earlier in her career she worked at the intersection of health services research and health policy with the Office of Financial Management, the Office of the Insurance Commissioner, and the Health Care Authority in Washington State.
Sara is active in the broader healthcare industry serving as an NCQA Board Director, as a member of inaugural class of the Frist Cressey Ventures Collective, a Harvard Executive Education Faculty Member, a Health Evolution Forum Fellow, World 50 Digital 50 member, a Forbes Business Council Member, and a board observer for DexCare. She has won numerous awards and has been recognized as a Business Insider 30 under 40 Transforming the Future of Healthcare (2019), Catholic Health Association Tomorrow’s Leader (2019), a Becker’s Rising Star in Health IT (2020), and a Becker’s Women to Watch in Health IT (2020 & 2022).
She holds an MHA and an MPH in Health Policy from the University of Washington School of Public Health and BAs in Physics and Philosophy from the University of California, Berkeley.