Atlanta takes lead role in steering bioscience, Health IT growth, policy

David Hartnett, vice president of Bioscience & Health IT Development for Metro Atlanta Chamber, shares his thoughts about Atlanta's role in the growing bioscience and Health IT sectors and the upcoming Georgia Health IT Leadership Summit.

Between now and the end of 2012, I will have attended more than nine conferences related to the bioscience and Health IT industries. That’s a lot of activity. In fact, I would put it at about a 20 percent increase in similar conference activity over the last year.

In part, that’s because bioscience and Health IT are burgeoning industries that are picking up speed. At all of these conferences, there’s a spotlight being shined on Atlanta as the place to be for bioscience and Health IT companies.

In fact, Georgia stands as the nation’s Health IT capital, with more than 200 companies, $4 billion in annual reported revenue and 16,000 employees. Georgia’s bioscience industry supports 105,000 jobs and delivers an annual impact of $23 billion.

This year, for the first time, Georgia is hosting a clinical trials conference Nov. 2, to spotlight innovations that can make clinical trials faster, more efficient and more compliant. On Dec. 4, Atlanta plays host to the Georgia Health IT Leadership Summit, which brings together local, regional and national leaders in the Health IT industry to address issues essential to industry growth.

We are a growing market, we are the center of global health, and as a result of growth and the depth of our leadership, we continue to take on an increasingly powerful role. We are no longer just a hub for business activity, but have become a key voice in state and federal policy issues impacting bioscience and Health IT, as well.

MAC’s Bioscience Leadership Council and Health IT public policy committee, for example, bring together Atlanta’s industry leaders to advance business growth and to act as a collective voice on behalf of policy issues that impact companies. Those issues can include state policy - or legislation coming out of Washington D.C. - that effects the future of bioscience and Health IT business.

Recent issues that have hit home have included the medical device tax or, more formally, the Medical Device User Fee and Modernization Act – a sweeping piece of legislation that has broad implications across the Health IT community. MAC and its partners led discussions and voiced recommendations about health care information regulations related to the new law and, collectively, steered outcomes.

The Health IT committee has also adopted the ambitious mission of connecting lobbyists from a variety of companies in the Health IT space to facilitate a coordinated effort to highlight any harmful impact legislation could have on businesses and jobs. The committee is now creating a state and federal legislation watch newsletter, as well as a rapid response plan, with the aim of being able to quickly assess and address issues effecting the industry.

That’s an important step as the industry, as a whole, begins to look more frequently to leadership bases like Atlanta to help steer, or stop, key legislative efforts. It is vital, as we continue to become a bigger force across industry sectors, that Atlanta’s bioscience and Health IT leaders bring their collective knowledge, influence and voice to the table for legislative debates. It is essential that those debates be colored by real-world, everyday business knowledge of the broad impact changes can have on jobs, companies and economies.

For more information on the 2012 Georgia Health IT Leadership Summit visit:
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