Atlantans who work in healthcare IT have at least two things in common: We are all, in our own way, working to develop technology that helps providers deliver better care at lower cost. And, we all enthusiastically refer to Atlanta as the nation’s capital of healthcare IT.
The subject of Atlanta and healthcare IT is on my mind thanks to an article I read recently at ChicagoBusiness.com. The story, “Why is Chicago so bad in healthcare IT?” listed reasons mainly having to do with turmoil at well-known, Chicago-based healthcare IT companies like Merge Healthcare and Allscripts.
After reading that rather doom-and-gloom assessment, I began to reflect on our city’s (not to mention our state’s) claim to healthcare IT fame. How would I explain it to someone in Chicago, or Boston, or Silicon Valley, or anywhere else that believes they have a claim to the title?
For starters, Atlanta is home to more than 200 healthcare IT companies, including healthcare cloud computing provider GNAX Health, which provided the image below. These companies employ more than 16,000 people across the state. Nine of them made this year’s Healthcare Informatics 100 List, thanks to cumulative revenues of more than $4 billion. Alpharetta-based McKesson clinched the number-one spot, while MedAssets, Greenway Medical and Navicure moved up in the rankings from their positions the previous year.
Atlanta’s healthcare IT industry also has the support of numerous universities and technical colleges, many of which are looking to expand their healthcare IT tracks in order to graduate enough qualified graduates to take advantage of the area’s boom in healthcare IT-related jobs. These higher education institutions have also helped to foster an exciting healthcare IT startup community, as evidenced by places like the Advanced Technology Development Center (ATDC) at Georgia Tech, and Atlanta Tech Village (ATV).
Cynthia Coker, Principal at N2M Advisory and a veteran of the healthcare IT industry from coast to coast, certainly values organizations like ATDC and ATV, and has an interesting perspective on why Atlanta is such a hotbed of healthcare IT right now. (N2M Advisory, which specializes in assisting healthcare IT, medical device and biotech companies with distribution, licensing and commercialization strategies for new products and services, has locations in Atlanta and Silicon Valley.) “N2M has had an office in the Atlanta area for many years focusing on the healthcare IT sector. The city is poised for explosive growth in healthcare IT due to its leading health institutions and the presence of many established technology companies. Georgia Tech’s ATDC, Tech Village and Venture Atlanta are a few examples of the technology revolution occurring here in Georgia.
“The city is fast becoming the next hot spot for healthcare IT startups and more,” she adds. “There has been a significant increase in the start-up activity in Atlanta in recent years. The state of Georgia experienced the second largest increase in entrepreneurial activity in the past decade, according to the Kauffman Index of Entrepreneurial Activity. A lot of that activity is in the healthcare IT sector. In addition to the organizations mentioned above, Atlanta also has great organizations such as the Georgia Tech Healthcare Interoperability and Innovation Lab (i3L), which is working on innovative healthcare technologies and solutions. N2M, in fact, has a Silicon Valley healthcare IT start-up client, CloudPhase Health, that has come all the way to Georgia just to work with i3L.”
In addition to higher education institutions like Georgia Tech, the metropolitan area is home to many well-respected hospitals and physician groups, as well as the CDC and government-sponsored institutions like the Georgia Health Information Network (GaHIN), which is helping to make patient health data accessible to Georgians anytime, from anywhere.
Organizations such as the Georgia chapter of the Health Information Management Systems Society, the Technology Association of Georgia, and the Metro Atlanta Chamber – to name just a few – are more active than ever before in their efforts to bring the benefits of healthcare IT to the forefront of conversation. Atlanta-based non-profits like Kilifi Kids serve as inspiration to us all, bringing the benefits of mobile healthcare IT to the underserved in Africa.
I’m sure I’ve left a few organizations, businesses and institutions out. My only excuse is that there are just too many to keep track of, thanks to Atlanta’s thriving healthcare IT scene. Feel free to let me know of any glaring omissions by leaving a comment below.