A new Nashville-based research and networking organization is bringing together an exclusive conclave of senior information technology executives to compare notes on overlapping business problems facing providers, payers and suppliers.
The aim of the Odin Group is to make the best and brightest minds in healthcare technology even better and brighter by encouraging them to exchange insights in a high-level series of meetings.
Each participating organization will pay $25,000 a year to have its top information executive sit in on the sessions three times a year, supported by Odin researchers and experts as the group of 42 tackles a short list of problems each year.
Eight information leaders were selected to serve on a governing board, which nominated another 34 to join them (See chart).
So far, 30 of the 42 have agreed to accept invitations that went out Feb. 5, said Daniel Nutkis, chairman of the Odin Group. The first meeting is scheduled for July 12 and 13.
Nutkis said a big problem in the industry is its provider, payer and pharmaceutical sectors are busy working on their own information-related challenges even though their spheres overlap.
Discussions of network-building in provider organizations, for example, are likely to mention in passing that links to payers are important. But there's no place for providers and payers to come together to trade intelligence on technology initiatives and mutual interests, Nutkis said.
The same goes for pharmaceutical companies that would be interested, for example, in what physician practice management organizations are doing, he said.
"Healthcare is a very fractionalized and diverse industry," said John Parker Jr., senior vice president for information resources at SmithKline Beecham, the pharmaceutical giant now in merger discussions with Glaxo Wellcome. Parker, an Odin board member, said the venture was attractive for its potential to present "a holistic view between all the players."
Part of the challenge will be to make headway in establishing standards for transfer of information, which despite numerous efforts is "not coalescing very well," he said. "One could argue that the technology is moving faster than the ability of healthcare to make use of it."
As a hand-picked group of seasoned executives, the venture's so-called "knowledge collaboratives" would not have to be brought up to speed on technology issues but would be able to jump right into business imperatives, he said.
The resulting give and take will "serve to crystallize the requirements for a very broad utilization (of information technology) across the healthcare spectrum," Parker said.
Nutkis said the company would act much like organizations that do industry research on issues specifically for clients, such as Stamford, Conn.-based Meta Group.
Parker said his aim is not to keep a proprietary grip on the group's labors but rather to distribute them to the healthcare industry. "This is not a closed kaffeeklatsch," he said.