By Megan Williams, contributing writer
Health IT is growing nationwide, and five cities are leading the way.
It’s generally a mistake to look at the U.S. healthcare system as one, homogenous market. Different regions have different strengths, and the industry itself houses verticals ranging from general information technology, to payor concentrations, to construction, and more. One area that an overview can be applied to is which U.S. cities are leading the way in health IT growth.
San Antonio, TX
San Antonio is a city entrenched in bioscience and health. Of the 1.3 million residents, one of six works in the industry. The city is home to nationally-recognized healthcare facilities, forward-thinking biotech companies, and respected global enterprises like Medtronic and Becton Dickinson. The city’s industry is centered around The South Texas Medical Center and produced over $29 billion in regional economic impact in 2011, as well as adding more than 40,000 jobs in the last 10 years.
It is projected that over $1 billion in local investment will be produced through 2015 through the development of hospitals, offices, and research facilities. Those numbers shouldn’t be surprising — all medical education and training for the country’s military happens here, and the city also houses the only Defense Department burn center.
San Antonio draws more than just domestic healthcare interest though. Startups Xenex and Canadian medical device company Innovative Trauma Care also call the city home.
Atlanta has almost always been a major player in healthcare information technology. Georgia houses over 200 health companies according to their chamber of commerce, and the number continues to rise. Atlanta is home to McKesson Technology Solutions, which ranks as the world’s largest in the industry.
In total, Atlanta health IT companies have revenues totaling close to $4 billion. Part of that total includes many small and medium-sized product and service companies. These numbers are primarily due to the city’s history of welcoming industry pioneers, and a supportive community of academic institutions, and healthcare providers that bolster the HIT workforce.
The health IT sector of Georgia employees over 16,000 people, and supports a business growth rate of 40 percent.
When it comes to IT in health specifically, Birmingham definitely tops the list. A visit by Health IT Outcomes’ editor-in-chief, Ken Congdon, revealed “The Magic City” is home to one of the oldest health informatics programs in the U.S. The University of Alabama at Birmingham was established in 1991 and boasts a curriculum designed specifically around producing the next generation of health IT leaders and innovators.
The University’s influence in the community extends beyond the realm of academia, and into the world of business incubation, specifically as a founding partner of the city’s Innovation Depot — a technology center and business incubation program that focuses on developing emerging healthcare/biotechnology/life science, information technology, engineering, and service businesses.
A simple drive through Nashville quickly reveals how deeply healthcare is imbedded in the city. Investors, innovators, and long-standing players in the industry (like HCA) all call this Tennessee city home. The city saw over $1 billion in venture capital funding from 2001 to 2011, much of that focused on the healthcare industry, and specifically, EHRs. While the technology is reaching its maturity phase, it’s still a major market, with much innovation yet to be seen.
According to TechnologyAdvice, a survey of over 250 Nashville providers revealed some interesting trends around EHRs and their use:
The state of Texas is always a strong player in the healthcare market, and Austin is no different. The quirky city boasts a recent explosion in entrepreneurism around the high tech sector, while the University of Texas and the state government itself are primed to add a couple thousand jobs in 2014. Austin’s major healthcare players are St. David’s Healthcare, Cornerstone Hospital — Austin, and Austin State Hospital, according to Monster.com.