by Nashville Health Care Council | Dec 17, 2012

By Senator Bill Frist, M.D. Content published by the Nashville Business Journal on December 14, 2012.

Nashville’s biggest industry is on the brink of rapid transformation.

Health care, a $70 billion sector of our city that encompasses more than 250 local companies and 200,000 local jobs, faces unprecedented levels of reform, cost pressures and broadening access.

Nashville is poised to take on these challenges, which is why many of the city’s top health care executives and I have signed on to spearhead the Nashville Health Care Council’s Fellows initiative, a program designed to engage, educate and foster leadership among those who will carry the industry forward. I am confident that Council Fellows is the next step in Nashville’s rich health care legacy, and it will further secure Nashville’s position as a premier industry cluster.

At this critical juncture, we must ask ourselves: Will Nashville continue the health care legacy built by leadership, innovation and top quality care delivery? Will we be at the forefront of solving the critical issues that face the industry? And, perhaps most importantly, are we training the next group of leaders to carry Nashville’s health care tradition forward?

Today, our city is uniquely positioned to – and must – rise to the occasion.

With change comes opportunity. The industry’s future depends on significant and deliberate collaboration. It will take leaders coming to the table – both present and future – to clearly define challenges, share experiences, learn from others and create workable solutions. Each of our perspectives plays a critical role, from the clinical leaders and hospital operators to the health care information technology experts, the entrepreneurs, the financiers and the legal minds.

This is the kind of work that extends far beyond policy and political rhetoric. Our collective action and experience can and must help transform this industry into one that is both sustainable for our nation and accessible for every patient who needs it. Nashville, more than any other place in our country, is home to the in-the-trenches health care experiences that our country needs to drive change.

I firmly believe that health care’s future lies in the hands of those who make it their daily work – for some, their life’s passion – to care for patients and respond to market drivers, while at the same time meeting and exceeding the demands of constant change unique to this industry. We are the ones on the front lines, using resources creatively to be more efficient and provide high-quality care in order to exceed the expectations of patients.

And so, Nashville must continue to invest our dollars and our intellect. We must equip those at the helm of our organizations. We must work together to leverage our collective experience.

We are the heart of all things health care. Real-world solutions should begin right here in the West End corridor, Maryland Farms, Cool Springs and every other corner of our region.

Will we confidently take our position? I believe the nation’s health care depends on it.

Dr. Bill Frist is the former U.S. Senate Majority Leader and the chairman and co-director of the Nashville Health Care Council’s latest initiative, the Council Fellows. For more information, visit www.healthcarecouncilfellows.com.