Spreading Holiday Cheer and Health IT Job Growth

It’s been a busy week for just about everyone both personally and professionally. I spent the first part of the week making sure everything at the office was squared away so that I could enjoy nearly a full week of quality time off with my family. The rest of the week has been spent shopping, eating, and, yes, more shopping. I did venture out on Black Friday to take advantage of some great deals, and I was not alone. Stores were bustling, indicating what I think many in the metro Atlanta have known for awhile – the local economy is slowing getting better. New homes are being built, older homes are selling, and the Braves are moving to Cobb County. Living in Acworth, I have an opinion or two on that development, which I’ll save for the AJC Sports section.

As you may know from previous Healthflock blogs, the industry of health IT in Atlanta and beyond is growing, helping us to attain the title of the “Nation’s Capital of Health IT.” No one is more aware of this growth than the executives who lead Atlanta’s health IT companies. Take, for instance, Jim Denny, Founder, President and CEO of Navicure, a revenue cycle solutions provider headquartered in Duluth that helps physician practices, billing companies and hospitals increase profitability. The company recently placed, for the seventh year in a row, on the Deloitte Fast 500, which recognizes the 500 fastest growing technology, media, telecommunications, life sciences and clean technology companies in North America.

Jim Denny, Founder, President & CEO, Navicure

Jim Denny, Founder, President & CEO, Navicure

I had the chance to chat with Denny about why he chose to headquarter Navicure here, and how he envisions the city and its infrastructure growing to help Atlanta retain its health IT title year after year.

Why did Navicure decide to open its HQ in the metro Atlanta area?
“Before starting Navicure, I worked for another Atlanta-based healthcare company and knew several people in and around the area that we could eventually hire to join our team. We also felt Atlanta had a very hospitable culture for health IT companies, and we wanted to take advantage of that. It seems like the more companies there are in the area, the more they all grow and thrive. It was really fortuitous that we were here. In fact, I am not sure if we could have started this company in another city. Even compared to other health IT hubs like Nashville or Salt Lake City, Atlanta is probably the biggest health IT community, and as such, is uniquely positioned to help companies like ours succeed.”

Do you think the health IT industry in Atlanta is poised for even more growth in the coming years? Why?
“Yes, I definitely think it is. Healthcare can be difficult at times, because it is very hard to find employees with the right level of industry knowledge. It is a complex field, but there will always be opportunities for people to improve the system. Atlanta has such a strong presence in health IT across so many segments, and a large pool of qualified employees, so it is hard to imagine how the city would not grow as an industry hub for many years to come.”

Do you think Atlanta’s concentration of health IT companies ultimately helps improve healthcare technology as a whole – from technology developed to care delivered?
“Until now, the bulk of health IT development in and around Atlanta has been about streamlining administrative tasks, like getting insurance claims paid and processed, scheduling appointments and helping providers to better manage patient flow. With all of the Meaningful Use incentives the government has offered over the last four years to encourage physician adoption of electronic health records and the current healthcare reform legislation, much more emphasis is being placed on promoting wellness and cutting costs.

“As a result, two things are taking place. First, local health IT developers are responding to recent healthcare reform legislation and shifting their focus to the clinical aspects of care so they can help providers treat patients in a more proactive, efficient way. Second, companies that have successfully helped providers better manage the administrative side of care are now taking a closer look at clinical processes and how they can be simplified and improved. It is the next logical progression for them. As these trends collide, there is going to be a lot more emphasis in the Atlanta community on how providers can streamline the entire care process and re-engineer both clinical and administrative workflow to better manage costs and drive toward wellness.”

How is Navicure aiding this growth in Atlanta and beyond?
“As the industry evolves and shifts its focus to the clinical side of care, we often find ourselves talking to other local companies working on similar endeavors. While we do not compete with many of these businesses, we do interact with them frequently and are always on the lookout for opportunities where we might be able to work together. Our goal is to help the entire Atlanta health IT ecosystem grow. When we come across entrepreneurs looking to start companies that address emerging problems in the industry, we try to encourage them as much as we can because we feel it will benefit us in the long run.

“Healthcare is just too complicated of an industry to assume any one person or company can figure it out by themselves. Seeking out the insight of others and joining forces makes the entire metro community stronger.”

Denny makes a good – and timely – point. The Atlanta-based Institute for Health Information Technology, an organization dedicated to advancing health IT, is currently seeking feedback from professionals in Atlanta’s health IT industry to better understand how to make this continued health IT growth happen. What are companies looking for in employees when it comes to degrees, skills and experience? How many do they anticipate hiring in the next few years? Will they hire from within Atlanta or look to outside talent?  Do they plan on expanding? The answers to these questions and more will help IHIT paint an accurate picture of the health IT development necessary to keep Atlanta on top. Click here to take the five-minute survey. I’ll share the results when they become available in the new year.

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