Atlanta has established itself as a hub for technology companies, from Fortune 500 companies to startups. While the entire state of Georgia has a long history of thriving technology companies, Atlanta in particular has established initiatives to support and grow the tech industry, which has in turn played a direct role in strengthening many of Atlanta’s other industries. Specifically, healthcare has seen dramatic advancements.
In fact, eight metro Atlanta health IT companies rank among Healthcare Informatics’ top 100 vendors. And overall, Georgia is home to more than 200 health IT companies of all sizes.1
The shift to digital
One of the main initiatives technological advancements have brought to the healthcare industry is security. At a time when files and reports are largely being stored and maintained on digital platforms, security of this data is crucial. And, especially as the population continues to age and more baby boomers need regular medical attention, the healthcare industry has jumped into action.
Randall Loggins, Senior Vice President, Relationship Manager at SunTrust, who focuses on middle market companies in the healthcare sector, notes how this push to improve methods of storing data and maintaining security has led to additional innovations. “It’s causing, or spurring rather, a lot of thought around aging care, how you think about home health and how you think about assisted living and skilled nursing,” Loggins says. He also notes this innovation extends into managing costs and the ongoing relationships between payers, providers, the government and other parties.
“The broader picture is a big reason why you’re seeing a boom in healthcare IT,” Loggins says. “The infrastructure is here. You’ve got a number of parties involved, from the state level to organizations to university systems that have invested a lot of time, energy, resources and dollars into trying to fuel the infrastructure already in place. For example, organizations like the Global Center for Medical Innovation (GCMI) have partnered with Georgia Tech and the Southeastern Medical Device Association (SEMDA) headquartered here in Atlanta to really create a broader ecosystem.”
SEMDA hosts an annual networking conference to encourage discussion and collaboration among medical technology innovators. This space is not only for the established, but also for young medtech companies to pitch ideas to vendors, large companies or entrepreneurs. Further, SEMDA has a group dedicated to enhancing opportunities for women in the medtech industry.
How the relationships are working
Since the technology and healthcare industries are in a state of constant growth, it also means they are both continuously evolving. In many instances, this has meant healthcare companies must do more than simply purchase new equipment for hospitals or processing machines for payment services. Instead, to keep up with compliance regulations, a growing population and evolving data security threats, healthcare companies are partnering directly with technology companies.
“You’ve seen a ton of consolidation at the hospital level to improve and build on practice management systems by incorporating revenue cycle management technologies and data analytic technologies,” Loggins says. “We’ve also seen a fair amount of roll-up activity in the space itself as companies come out with new technologies that integrate well with existing infrastructures.”
And this roll up is across the board. While security and easing processing has been a major concern, the healthcare industry has been taking strides that have never been possible before, such as facilitating communication between physician and patients by promoting telemedicine, streamlining care and providing other smart device-related advantages.
“Everybody has a smartphone these days, and there are apps available now that can take a diagnostic and report back to someone’s primary or specialty physician,” Loggins says. “In fact, there’s a company called Diasyst, which has a technology that takes diagnostic tests related to diabetes, and then will electronically submit back a response or a treatment plan.”
These technologies have helped the healthcare industry be more efficient in many aspects. For example, telemedicine reduces hospital re-admittance rates by being able to provide real-time diagnostics through smartphone technology. “You have reduced visit to physicians because they’re able to monitor and interact with patients remotely,” Loggins says.
Additionally, revenue cycle management technology has simplified billing and patient receivables, even improving accuracy. This is beneficial for not only the healthcare industry, but also for patients and insurance companies. And when it comes to cybersecurity, having partnerships in place puts both patients and physicians at ease, knowing that when a new threat should arise, their technology counterpart will evolve as well. As Loggins notes, “I don’t think you can really pinpoint one statistic over another. I think to make the claim that the technology industry has holistically helped the healthcare system would be appropriate.”