5 Cities For VAR Growth
By Megan Williams, contributing writer
If you’ve worked with any decent number of healthcare clients, you know that the industry can show wild variations. That’s true by type of business, but also by geographical area. Cities that promise increased investment and a nurturing environment for your potential clients change with the times, and a few sometimes get overlooked — so here’s a list of five cities that are leading the way in healthcare technology growth.
San Antonio, TX
Our first entrant from Texas is San Antonio, a city entrenched in bioscience and health. Of the 1.3 million residents, one in 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. This adds up to a wide range of healthcare entities, all of which will need IT services to stay on top of industry challenges.
The city is looking at a projection of over $1 billion in local investment to be produced through 2015 through the development of hospitals, offices, and research facilities. San Antonio should also be a focal point for VARs in the military and defense niche — 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 is also proving to be attractive on the international stage. International startup Xenex and Canadian medical device company Innovative Trauma Care call the city home.
Even though it’s rivaled by health information mainstays Kansas City, MO and Madison, WI, Atlanta has a long history as a keystone city in healthcare information technology. Georgia houses over 200 health companies according to their chamber of commerce, and the number continues to rise. The state capital is home to McKesson Technology Solutions, which ranks as the world’s largest healthcare services company.
While that means competition for some, the city has proven fertile ground for IT companies overall, with health IT businesses reporting revenues totaling close to $4 billion. Part of that total includes many small and medium-sized product and service companies.
Atlanta earned these numbers by creating an environment that has historically been welcoming to industry pioneers, and fostering a supportive community of academic institutions, and healthcare providers that bolster the healthcare IT workforce.
Birmingham makes this list primarily because of its educational credentials. While that might not be a big selling point for most VARs, the academic roots of the city have positioned it as a city solutions providers should not overlook.
“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 features a curriculum designed specifically around producing the next generation of health IT leaders and innovators.
That pool of talent has come to mean that healthcare IT in the area isn’t limited to the classroom, and instead extends into the world of business incubation. UofA is a founding partner of the city’s Innovation Depot — 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. It is home to leading investors, innovators, and long-standing players in the industry (like HCA). The Tennessee capital has seen an influx of over $1 billion in venture capital funding from 2001 to 2011, with much of it focused on the healthcare industry, and specifically electronic health records. While the EHR market is reaching its maturity phase, it still holds major potential, 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:
- Clinical provider growth in the city increased by 50 percent between 1995 and 2008.
- EHR usage in medical offices is a healthy 74 percent.
- Nashville exceeds the national average (66 percent) of doctor satisfaction with their EHR system with 82.6 percent of doctors saying that they’re happy with their current systems.
Texas makes a showing twice on this list for good reason. The state is always a strong player in the healthcare market, and Austin is no different. The quirky city boasts a recent boom in entrepreneurism around the high tech sector.
It’s also no slacker on the academic and government fronts, with the University of Texas and the state government primed to add a couple thousand jobs in 2014.
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