Providence St. Joseph Health lures Microsoft executive to navigate digital transformation

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After helping Microsoft transition to the cloud, Venkat Bhamidipati wants to tackle healthcare's digital transformation.

A former Microsoft executive is making the switch to healthcare as the chief financial officer at Providence St. Joseph Health—a C-suite addition the integrated system hopes will further its position as an industry innovator.

Venkat Bhamidipati

On Tuesday, the health system named Venkat Bhamidipati as its executive vice president and CFO. Bhamidipati brings with him 24 years of experience in the consumer technology industry, including 13 years with Microsoft, but this is his first foray into healthcare. Most recently, Bhamidipati served as Microsoft’s CFO and managing director for business development and strategy.

Bhamidipati was drawn to the healthcare because of the “complex, multidimensional transformation” that has taken hold of the industry, motivating payers and providers to integrate innovative technologies that can improve clinical outcomes and give patients more control over their care. At Microsoft, Bhamidipati was tasked with helping the tech giant transition its business model from legacy systems to cloud computing, and he sees some parallels between that evolution and the formidable tasks he faces in his new position.   

“The pivots [in healthcare] are around digital transformation, improving patient outcomes and the drive toward patient consumerism and new business models,” he told FierceHealthcare. “It’s not just one-sixth of the whole economy; there’s an incredible transformation we’re witnessing in healthcare.”

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The addition to Providence St. Joseph’s executive team underscores a broader strategic shift for the health system, which is headquartered in Washington but operates 50 hospitals and more than 800 clinics across seven states. CEO Rod Hochman, M.D., called Bhamidipati’s hire “an intentional pivot for our organization that will support the intersection between technology and health care.”

Bhamidipati is not the first executive that Providence St. Joseph’s has siphoned from Silicon Valley. In 2014, the organization plucked Aaron Martin, now the chief digital officer, away from Amazon. Martin was also tasked with overseeing Providence Ventures, a venture capital arm of the health system that funds digital health startups.

Bhamidipati plans to draw on his past experiences to steer one of the largest not-for-profit health systems in the country toward technologies that improve efficiency and quality care. He sees value in technologies that can engage patients and streamline clinician workload, as well as remote monitoring tools and telehealth technology that improve access to physicians and empower the entire care team.

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But he also acknowledges that his new employer already has a head start when it comes to investing in and integrating technology.

“The question becomes, how do we think about our portfolio and how do we accelerate some of these innovations, commercialize new business models and new opportunities and diversify revenue,” Bhamidipati said.