Kaiser Permanente taps Prat Vemana as first chief digital officer

Rendering of Kaiser Permanente's planned headquarters
Many health systems have been looking outside of the healthcare industry for technology executives to lead their digital strategy. (Kaiser Permanente)

Kaiser Permanente has tapped Prat Vemana as its first chief digital officer for Kaiser Foundation Health Plan and Hospitals.

Vemana will lead the ongoing development and execution of Kaiser Permanente’s digital vision and strategy, in collaboration with internal health plan, hospital, and medical group teams, the health system said. Vemana will step into the new role on August 12.

In selecting Vemana for the role, Kaiser Permanente executives point to his experience in delivering large-scale, enterprisewide digital solutions and experiences.

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Vemana will move over to the health system from The Home Depot, where he served as chief product and experience officer for the past year. In that role, Vemana was responsible for a consumer-centric vision and strategy that enhances user experience across the company, according to a Kaiser Permanente press release. Prior to that, Vemana also served as vice president online at The Home Depot and he held leadership roles at Staples, Inc., and Informed Clinical Sciences Corporation.

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“We’ve made tremendous investments in building our digital platforms and creating greater access for our members. Now we are taking it to the next level by focusing on digital experiences that change the way transactions and services are delivered,” Kaiser Permanente Chairman and CEO Bernard J. Tyson, said in a statement. “Prat is the perfect choice to help lead and guide the future of our digital health and wellness ecosystem that will provide our members with meaningful experiences and empower them to live more healthy years.”

Prat Vemana

Kaiser Permanente Executive Vice President and CIO Richard Daniels said Vemana has a proven track record of delivering consumer-focused digital experiences. "Prat will help Kaiser Permanente achieve its future vision and goals by advancing our digital strategy," Daniels said in a statement.

Healthcare organizations have increasingly been adding chief digital officers to their executive teams to manage overall digital strategy. Last year, Ascension, the largest Catholic health system in the country, hired Eduardo Conrado as its first chief digital officer and executive vice president.

Many health systems also have been looking outside of healthcare for executives with deep technology expertise. Providence St. Joseph Health tapped former Amazon executive Aaron Martin as its first chief digital officer in 2014.

Novant Health also looked to an industry outside to fill its first chief digital officer role. The health system appointed Angela Yochem to that role in January 2018. Yochem has spent most of her career filling technology leadership roles at Fortune 500 companies including BDP International, AstraZeneca, Dell, Bank of America and, most recently, as the CIO of Rent-A-Center.

RELATED: Providence St. Joseph executive Aaron Martin: Slow pace of healthcare innovation is jarring to the tech world

As chief digital officer at Kaiser Permanente, Vemana will report to Daniels, with joint accountability to Tyson.

Vemana will lead cross-functional teams across Kaiser Permanente to transform a full range of online and mobile interactions and digital experiences for its more than 12 million members, patients, and customers, as well as digital tools and processes for its workforce, the organization said.

Vemana holds a bachelor’s degree in computer science and engineering from the University of Madras and a master’s in business administration in global leadership and innovation from MIT’s Sloan School of Management.

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