It’s a Good Time to be in Healthcare Technology in Georgia

I recently had the opportunity to attend my third Georgia Technology Summit, held recently at the Cobb Galleria. The event, now in its tenth year, brought together Georgia’s technology companies and professionals, and was the stage upon which the Technology Association of Georgia (TAG) debuted its 2014 State of the Industry report. Key takeaways include:

* Georgia’s technology economy adds jobs at a faster pace than the national average.
* Technology wages are growing in Georgia.
* More growth is expected for Georgia’s technology industry.
* Georgia will experience a STEM surge.
* Georgia’s tech clusters are critical to our state’s success.
* Demand for software and mobile developers is on the rise in Georgia.
* Access to talent and capital are essential to Georgia’s tech clusters.
* Georgia leads in key technology sectors (including healthcare IT).
*  Georgia’s health IT employment growth is among the highest in the nation.
* Georgia’s mid-markets rely on engineers.

Basically, it’s a good time to be in technology in Georgia. Several of the takeaways above highlight sentiments shared with me by Tee Green, CEO of Greenway Health. I had the opportunity to recently chat with him about what it means to lead a company in a state devoted to sustaining the title of the “Nation’s Capitol of Healthcare IT.”

What sort of impression do you get when you tell colleagues that Greenway is located just outside of Atlanta – the nation’s capital of healthcare IT? Based in Carrollton, does Greenway feel a connection to that moniker?
I think the Metro Atlanta Chamber and TAG have really done a phenomenal job of marketing the footprint of metro Atlanta’s healthcare IT infrastructure – just the number of companies that have landed here, started here, that seem to move here … I think the reputation is making its way around the country. Obviously, we use our connection to Atlanta and its title for recruiting. It’s helped us grow a company from just a couple of us to north of 1,700 team members. We absolutely have a connection to the moniker and Atlanta being a healthcare IT leader.

Has that title helped Greenway do business in any way?
Yes, absolutely. There’s obviously talent, and more companies that spawn that talent. It certainly creates a knowledge base, which is important in healthcare. It’s one thing to understand technology; it’s another thing to understand clinical vocabularies. Healthcare in some way has its own language. They don’t teach ICD-10 in many technology schools, but you have to understand what that is and what those codes are and all the things that create the complexity. Everything’s so contextual. It’s not just routing zeros and ones like it is in other industries.

What do you think Atlanta and the state of Georgia could do to bolster this reputation for healthcare IT?
As a state, we can do more to invest in the training of healthcare IT professionals. The demand is high and the supply is low. We need to invest in our high schools, technical schools, trade schools and universities in an attempt to create really have some type of orchestrated healthcare IT training program. We need a focal point from the state, from the governor that will better enable us to lead the nation as it relates to healthcare knowledge. That’s something that we could probably really push in this state. It would be a gamechanger for decades to come.

Tell me about the ties that Greenway has established within its community. How has the company made a positive impact?
We’re very involved in the Boys & Girls Club in metro Atlanta. We feel very strongly about investing in the children that will eventually move back into our communities, so we’ve created scholarships and internship programs. We call it the Do Right Scholarship program. The scholarship recipients have the opportunity to be an intern, and if they like the organization and they are passionate about healthcare, they certainly have an opportunity to become employed full time.

We’ve also partnered with an organization called the Rapha Clinic, which is an organization that provides free healthcare services for the uninsured. It’s a way for us to partner with our customers, because we provide the technology, the service and the funding, and they provide the professional services. It started in just one community in Carroll, and has expanded to Douglas, Harralson, Heard and Paulding. We’ve also just epxanded into Randolph and Cleveland counties in the state of Alabama. We’re looking at how we can invest in this across the country.

We’re not only passionate about creating a smarter healthcare system through our technology, but also meeting the tremendous amount of need out there for improved access to healthcare services for the uninsured.

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