If the spirit of Nashville springs from music, then its muscle comes from health care.
Both industries have brought an international spotlight to the area, but when it comes to numbers and the depth and breadth of its impact, health care shines particularly brightly.
“The health-care industry is Nashville’s most significant economic driver, responsible for $70 billion in annual revenue globally and 400,000 jobs throughout the world,” says Caroline Young, president of the Nashville Health Care Council, an association of health-care industry leaders. “It thrives due to the collaborative and entrepreneurial spirit of the health-care leaders based here, not to mention the wealth of talent that exists in our community.”
The industry’s impact on the Nashville economy continues to grow, currently generating nearly $30 billion in economic benefit each year and supporting more than 200,000 jobs. Nashville is home to more than 250 health-care companies, and another 300-plus businesses in the area provide health care-related services.
From startups to established providers, local firms across the industry rely on networks, partnerships and innovation to stay vibrant and evolve for the future.
“It’s an exciting time to be in the health-care industry, particularly in Nashville,” Young says. “As the nation’s health-care system navigates an era of unprecedented change, Nashville is poised to advance its legacy of health-care leadership, entrepreneurship and innovation.”
A Wide Network
Nashville’s rise as the health-care capital began with the founding of HCA in 1968, and the city is now home to a diverse range of sectors within the industry, including ambulatory and outpatient surgery, long-term care, behavioral health, population health, academic research and health information technology.
HCA is undergoing an $200 million expansion of two of its business units, Parallon Business Solutions and Sarah Cannon Research Institute (SCRI), that will bring 2,000 jobs to the city's North Gulch area by late 2016.
Along with HCA, Nashville is the headquarters for other nationally known health-care organizations like Vanderbilt University Medical Center, Saint Thomas Health, Community Health Systems, LifePoint Hospitals, AmSurg and Healthways. But the industry’s strength also comes from smaller health-care information technology firms like Stratasan, Qualifacts and Passport Health Communications, both of which continue to grow their operations in the area.
InQuicker is a bootstrap startup that has grown exponentially since its establishment in 2006 and full development three years later. The company, founded by Michael Brody-Waite and Tyler Kiley, provides an online emergency room scheduling service that helps decrease waiting times for patients at emergency rooms, doctor offices and other health-care facilities.
“We were both inspired by a vision of health care we thought should exist,” Brody-Waite says. “In health care, people should have a great experience from a customer service perspective.”
InQuicker partners with nearly 300 facilities in 25 states. One of its most significant associations has been with Saint Thomas Health – its first with a Nashville-based provider.
“Seeing Saint Thomas go live was one of most important experiences I’ve had here at InQuicker,” Brody-Waite says.
Evolving for the Future
Playing a key role in bringing firms across the industry together to focus on solving national health-care needs is the Nashville Health Care Council, which was founded in 1995 as an initiative of the Nashville Area Chamber of Commerce.
“All Council activities and initiatives serve to fulfill our mission to further establish Nashville’s position as the nation’s health-care industry capital,” Young says.
The organization achieves this by offering member companies access to national policymakers, industry innovators and thought leaders. Council programs on finance, policy and trends provide vital information to members as they grow their businesses. Council initiatives such as Leadership Health Care (LHC) and Council Fellows also bolster Nashville's No. 1 industry.
LHC is for those who are progressing through the industry and seeking educational and networking opportunities, while Fellows is an annual four-month program designed for established leaders in the industry.
Fellows launched in 2013 with 33 participants, one of which included Bill Rutherford, who serves as chief financial officer and executive vice president for HCA.
"Most of us are accustomed to looking at the industry through our own lenses," he says. "The Fellows class gave us an opportunity to broaden that perspective, hear from world-class thought leaders and stimulate ideas around innovation and new approaches for the delivery of care."