Nashville may be known as the nation's capital for country music, but its largest industry is healthcare, contributing $30 billion and 250,000 jobs to the area economy through 300 companies.
Unique to Nashville is its wide and diverse market. The city is home to multiple healthcare industry sectors, including senior living, ambulatory services, behavioral health, technology and hospital management, all of which collaborate and innovate in a manner that establishes Nashville as a global hub for healthcare advancement.
Growth in Nashville's healthcare market is happening at astounding rates. Last fall, Kiplinger's Finance ranked Nashville No. 3 among the “Greatest Cities to Start a Business.” Between 2001 and 2011, more than $950 million was invested in healthcare companies. And Nashville's Venture Capital Report, a joint effort by the Nashville Capital Network and the Nashville Health Care Council, notes that new companies are being founded faster than at any time in the past decade.
Such an entrepreneur-friendly environment has led to several successful startups such as NextGxDx, a genetic testing IT solutions provider that helps hospitals quickly identify, compare and order genetic tests. The company recently announced a partnership with Seattle Children's Hospital, to help the organization streamline the genetic test ordering process through electronic ordering and comparing testing options.
NextGxDx's founder Mark Harris said Nashville is conducive to startups because of the camaraderie and support from business leaders in the city.
“The business community is very supportive of entrepreneurs,” Harris said. “When you are just getting a company set up here in town, people are willing to sit down have a meal with you, learn about your business and then connect you with people that might be able to help you.”
Longtime, established companies are also growing through partnerships, acquisitions and innovation.
Brookdale Senior Living recently became the largest senior housing provider in the nation, after a couple decades of large-scale mergers and acquisitions. In 2006 it merged with Nashville-based American Retirement Corporation, and most recently went through a $2.8-billion merger with Emeritus Senior Living. Brookdale now has more than 1,100 communities in 46 states, covering 80% of the U.S. population.
LifePoint Health, founded only in 1999, has also grown into a network of 60 community hospitals, 1,100 physician practices, and dozens of post-acute and outpatient facilities. It recently changed its name from LifePoint Hospitals to LifePoint Health to reflect the company's evolution from a hospital company to healthcare provider that addresses patients' needs across the continuum of care. “While our name has changed, our mission—making communities healthier—and our commitment to delivering quality care and achieving standards of excellence in every facet of our operations remains the same,” says Bill Carpenter, LifePoint Health chairman and CEO.
LifePoint's partnership with Duke University Health System has made waves in the provider industry since being established in 2011. Duke LifePoint Healthcare is a joint venture which now operates 12 hospitals in four states, growing from a regional operation to a national one with the July 2013 acquisition of Marquette General Health in Michigan.
“We are proud of our innovative partnership with Duke University Health System,” Carpenter says. “Where it makes sense, we are aligning with clinical organizations that share our dedication to advance high-quality healthcare and ensure patients in our communities have access to a strong continuum of care.”
While Nashville is home to more than 300 healthcare companies, the city is increasingly becoming the headquarters for the nation's behavioral health industry, with Acadia and American Addictions Centers located in the Nashville area.
Surgery center pioneer AmSurg's acquisition of Sheridan Healthcare is indicative of the vibrant merger and acquisition trend that is taking place. Emdeon, a Nashville revenue-cycle management company, has been on an acquisition spree having acquired so far this year Change Healthcare to extend its reach into consumer engagement, and cost transparency solutions provider Altegra Health.
The Nashville Health Care Council has played a crucial role in the industry's growth and represents well the unique spirit of the area's industry, said Rosemary Plorin, president at Lovell Communications, a Nashville public relations firm.
“There seems to be such a willingness to share knowledge, to share best practices,” Plorin said. “Certainly it's a very healthy competitive environment, but it's well balanced by a healthy collaboration. That's what the Health Care Council is all about.”