by William Williamson | Apr 01, 2012

NASHVILLE¬†– Judith Byrd is director of Leadership Health Care, which was formed in 2002 as a Nashville Health Care Council initiative to foster the next generation of health care leaders by creating educational and networking opportunities for members. In 2012, LHC celebrates 10 years of its work to grow Nashville’s health care industry through its programming, including its signature delegation to Washington, D.C. Byrd and her team recently returned from D.C., and she met with Nashvile Post Managing Editor William Williams for a recap.

How did the event in Washington, D.C., go? How can it benefit LHC?

LHC’s 10-year anniversary delegation to Washington, D.C., couldn’t have been timelier. Delegates visited the capital during one of the most uncertain and dynamic times to learn what’s facing the industry over the next few months: a presidential election, tightening of the federal budget and, most timely, [recent] arguments before the U.S. Supreme Court on key parts of health reform. Being able to expose 100 of the Nashville health care industry’s emerging leaders to policy leaders who will steer this significant change is a direct benefit for the industry here and an opportunity for Nashville to showcase our health care expertise to this important audience.

How is the delegation distinctive compared to other programs on the Hill?

Nashville’s position as the nation’s health care capital and home to world-class industry executives sets the delegation apart from other programs in Washington. LHC is privileged to showcase an incredibly strong agenda that is among the best offered in Washington. Speakers are eager to enter into discussions with key industry leaders implementing change from the ground up.

What was the major news that emerged during the conference? What were key takeaways for delegates?

It was no surprise that the oral arguments on several aspects of the health reform law before the U.S. Supreme Court were center stage. Equally important were the conversations around core health care funding and reimbursement pressures that are expected to dominate the discussion in 2013. Battleground financing issues will be addressed by whoever wins the elections as the nation faces its economic crisis with a focus on entitlement, tax and spending reforms.

LHC wants, in part, to keep young health care industry talent in Nashville. What is your approach to that?

LHC has worked for 10 years to complement the mission of its parent organization, the Nashville Health Care Council, to further Nashville as the nation’s health care hub by working to grow the talent of the next generation. Year-round, we offer our more than 560 LHC members continued development through unique educational programming and networking opportunities like the delegation.

What is the relationship between LHC and the Nashville Health Care Council?

Nashville’s health care community has many legendary leaders who have brought the industry to its nationally known position today. In order to support future growth, the council established LHC in 2002 to foster the next generation of health care industry leadership. The organization provided then – and still does today – industry-related educational programming, networking and bonding experiences for Nashville’s up-and-coming executives.

LHC turns 10 this year. Thoughts?

I think if you were to ask some of our longtime members, they might say that 10 years has flown by. Many of our original members have risen to executive leadership positions or gone on to launch successful startup companies. Looking at our membership base of today’s best and brightest emerging health care industry leaders, we see much the same in store for them. It’s a dynamic group that is eager to be on the forefront of innovation and entrepreneurial opportunities. With uncertainty and change defining the industry, we expect to see a lot in their future.

In addition to the D.C. delegation program, what are other key LHC initiatives?

LHC offers a suite of programs to support emerging industry leaders. Among them are the Washington delegation’s sister visit to Wall Street, along with access to established industry leaders through executive round tables, fundamentals programs that address timely industry topics, panel discussions featuring diverse industry representation, industry tours of community providers and networking receptions.

How is LHC growing?

Today, we have over 560 members representing almost 300 companies, and we expect to round out our anniversary year with an estimated 750 individuals. Since its inception with a handful of dynamic emerging executive members in 2002, LHC has seen continued positive momentum and growth. Last year’s membership included 650 individuals, a 20 percent increase over the previous year. In addition, the 2011 calendar year included a 42 percent increase among graduate student members, a key pool of future industry leaders. LHC is proud to feature health care topics and experts from across the industry and the country. The delegation is one example of the draw that Nashville’s health care industry holds for anyone working in health care, and the ability for LHC to offer the forum to access that expertise.

Why is LHC positive for Nashville?

Health care is Nashville’s largest and fastest growing economic driver, which has a ripple effect across the Nashville economy to the tune of more than 200,000 jobs. LHC wants to keep Nashville’s reputation as the nation’s health care capital. And, in order to do that, we need to plan for the future. Fostering the next generation of health care leaders and entrepreneurs helps solidify Nashville’s position as a health care industry leader and ensures a strong economy and good quality of life for the city.

Nashville is not known nationally as a center for technology in general or for health care information technology specifically. Why?

The nation is on the cusp of sweeping health care system change and HIT is central to this process. We believe Nashville and LHC can play a key role in these discussions. In fact, our members will be growing their HIT knowledge next month in a program featuring Emdeon CEO George Lazenby. There are a number of organizations working in Nashville to address broad HIT workforce issues. LHC is deeply rooted in the long-term success and growth of key industry talent.