Strong provider directory is step one for digital transformation

Sara Vaezy, the chief digital strategy officer at Providence-St. Joseph Health, says everything else follows from an accurate, up-to-date, and user friendly directory.
By Jonah Comstock

There’s an old saying: A journey of 1,000 miles begins with a single step. And for the long journey of digital hospital transformation, that step is creating a robust, accurate, usable provider directory.

That’s the thesis of Sara Vaezy, chief digital strategy officer for Providence St. Joseph Health. with Travis Moore, VP of sales at Kyruus, Providence’s vendor for provider directory services.

“Providers are what you’re selling to patients. They’re one of the key front doors into your system,” Vaezy told “If you’re thinking about where to begin from a digital transformation standpoint, a lot of systems dabble in all sorts of other things like apps for any number of clinical use cases. None of those will come to scale unless you do digital transformation much more fundamentally and the first step is a provider directory. One that’s online, that’s accessible, that’s accurate and that’s usable by your customers.”

Creating a provider directory is easier said than done, Vaezy said.

“There’s a lot of actual complexity to get provider information,” she said. “For instance, the provider’s specialty can be broken down into many different layers of granularity, some of which are meaningless to the consumer. … There’s also a lot of technical challenges in making it so a consumer can determine 'Is this right for me?' which is another challenge. There’s also fundamental challenges around existing infrastructure. For instance, Providence is on six different credentialing systems — and that’s the most accurate source of data.”

Traditionally, many hospitals' physician directories are manually updated after a periodic census of the hospital. With Kyruus’s offering, Providence St. Joseph can link the directory to their credentialing systems, ensuring that the directory is always up to date.

Once the provider directory is in place, a whole host of digital offerings are unlocked, starting with appointment booking and going all the way to mobile apps and health management tools like Providence’s Circle Women’s Health app which was recently acquired by Wildflower Health.

Vaezy said that if anyone doubts the importance of starting with the provider director, they only need look at how new patients are most likely to find a hospital.

“If we think about just our web strategy, our provider pages within Providence’s website are the most accessed pages,” she said. “That’s where folks are going to look for information so they can come into the system to get the care that they need. Without that, they’ll go somewhere else to find that care.”

Vaezy and Moore will be presenting on Thursday, February 14th in room W314B at the Orlando Convention Center. Their session is called “.” .