Tennessee's Health Care Industry Displays Exceptional Vital Signs

Tennessee’s health care industry pulses with innovation.

By
Kim Madlom
On Monday, June 1, 2020 - 12:52
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Home to world-class hospitals, medical device manufacturers, research institutions and pharmaceutical companies, Tennessee is a global leader and a hub for the nation’s health care industry.

The state’s concentration of health care expertise, a growing technology sector and an entrepreneurial heritage are fueling new ventures in health information technology. In addition, the presence of St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, University of Tennessee Health Science Center (UTHSC), Vanderbilt University and other major centers of research help drive innovation.

Vanderbilt was involved in research efforts related to the COVID-19 outbreak, including clinical trials.

Memphis is the second largest center in the U.S. for orthopedic device manufacturing, and Tennessee is the third largest exporter in the country for medical equipment. Companies such as Smith & Nephew, Wright Medical Group, Medtronic and DeRoyal have headquarters or operations in the state.

Medacta USA, an orthopedic and medical device maker, cited Middle Tennessee’s status as an international hub for health care as a primary reason for moving its headquarters from Chicago to Franklin.

Harrow Health, a publicly traded company that founds, funds, staffs and helps manage pharmaceutical companies, moved from San Diego to Nashville. Harrow executives cited the region’s critical mass of health care companies as well as its talent and highly regarded universities as factors that made Nashville an attractive relocation spot.

The state’s health care expertise and entrepreneurial spirit have spawned innovative companies such as Xtend Healthcare, a recognized leader in comprehensive revenue cycle solutions for hospitals, physicians and other providers. Xtend’s solutions deliver billions of dollars in incremental cash flow for its customers, enabling them to continue providing critical services in their communities.

Xtend, a part of financial services provider Navient, has more than 700 employees.

“We believe we have a strong symbiotic relationship with our community,” says CEO Mike Morris. “Xtend Healthcare benefits greatly from a deep and growing pool of potential employees with strong health care backgrounds. In turn, we add significantly to Nashville’s reputation as a health care hub. We also love the sense of community in Nashville. Nashville is a great location to serve our national customer base.”

Xtend’s expertise was on display during the coronavirus outbreak when it provided resources to its clients to help them manage the crisis, including Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidance on accurate coding of COVID-19 cases and information on expansion of the federal Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services advanced payment program.

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Medtronic

Mission Driven

A key driver of the state’s health care sector is the UTHSC, which broke records in the 2018-19 academic year for degrees awarded, revenue generated, research grant awards and clinical activity. With a home base in Memphis, UTHSC has four campuses, with the others located in Knoxville, Chattanooga and Nashville. All four campuses actively practice medicine and generate more than $360 million in clinical activity. UTHSC is working to bring West Tennessee Healthcare, which includes Jackson-Madison County Hospital, into the ranks of its teaching hospitals.

UTHSC’s mission focuses on four areas: education, research, clinical care and public service. UTHSC supplies the majority of health care practitioners in the state, including physicians, pharmacists and physical therapists.

“We exist to provide Tennessee’s doctorally trained health care workforce,” says Dr. Steve J. Schwab, UTHSC’s chancellor. “UTHSC offers a broad educational experience with didactic teaching, extensive experiential learning opportunities and hands-on teaching. Students learn surgery in the operating room and emergency medicine in the emergency room.”

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In 2018, UTHSC awarded 1,000 degrees, 90% of which were comprised of M.D., Ph.D. and D.D.S. degrees and 400 specialty certificates in pediatrics, obstetrics and surgery.

In addition, UTHSC generated a total revenue of $300 million in sponsored programs, the largest of any public higher education institution in the state. The university also generated more than $100 million in research awards and expenditures.

Among many research projects, UTHSC researchers are making significant advances in the treatment of sickle cell disease and are working to combat mosquito-borne illnesses.

Colleen Jonsson, professor and Endowed Van Vleet Chair of Excellence in Virology at UTHSC, has been awarded over $21 million in funding to develop antiviral drugs to combat harmful viruses spread to people by infected mosquitoes.

“A core belief at UTHSC is teaching the actual care of patients,” Schwab says.