Eleanor Kennedy | Nashville Business Journal

Hayley Hovious came to the Nashville Health Care Council via what she called “the most interesting career ever.”

After starting out in consumer packaged goods industry — first toys, then wine — she made her way to health care through a position with the state of Tennessee. This summer, she ascended from head of the council’s Fellows initiative to president of the entire organization, and is just now rapping up her first 100 days or so in the position.

About a month after the council put out a report showing the industry has a nearly $40 billion impact on Middle Tennessee’s economy, I sat down with Hovious to talk about how she’ll bring together the community responsible for all those dollars. Excerpts form the first half of our conversation are below; look for more in next week’s print edition of the Nashville Business Journal.

Q: What do you want the Nashville Health Care Council to be under your leadership, both for your members and toward others not in the community?

A: What makes it unique is that we have such a diverse membership. Our members come from all different parts of the health care sphere, so what that enables us to do is to really have health care conversations that nobody else in the country can have. Because we bring together payers, providers, health care IT, financial people. We offer the opportunity for all these people to dialog in a way that they’re really not doing anywhere else in the country. So from that perspective that gives us a lot of opportunity. … Our mission is really to promote Nashville as the health care capital of America (I say the world a lot of the time because there are very few other places that have this developed health care industry), and from that perspective, the kind of thought leadership that can happen here, because of this diversity, because of the conversations we’re having, it’s really my job to promote that to the larger audience of the U.S. and then outside of the U.S.

And from the perspective of what the rest of the country can gain from this, I think we have almost a limitless possibility to really affect the way that health care is delivered in this country from right here. Because of those conversations, [the industry here] has the ability to really change people’s quality of life.

You’ve got a pretty varied career background, how does that inform the work you do here?

It’s really interesting, because I feel like I’ve had the most interesting career ever. The consumer packaged goods piece, right now, it’s really come full circle because consumerism is such a hot topic in health care. And it’s really my background; as a brand manager you look at what your customer needs, what your consumer needs, and really getting a feel for that. And it’s really a new kind of idea in health care right now. So for me it’s wonderful to be able to have that vantage point, and to know what’s possible, because the consumer packaged goods industry has had such a deep understanding of their customer for so long. So what’s possible in health care is going to be amazing to see.

I kind of went from there and I was the trade director at the state of Tennessee, which was a wonderful position. It was a chance to get a program up and running for the state that focused on industries across the state, and I got into health care and started talking with the council because I had looked at our major industries and health care was under-represented internationally. There are a lot of reasons for that, but I was working with the council to make sure that council members were able to be exposed to opportunities abroad.

Are there any new initiatives or programming you want to implement? What all should the community expect?

I’ve kind of gone back to the strategic plan, which has been in place for a year. … It’s something that [former NHCC president Caroline Young] and the team were working on before. It focuses on a number of strategic areas. The first one is thought leadership. So when I talk about Nashville and our opportunity to affect people outside of Nashville, that’s a major priority, and one that we’ve started working on and we’ll be really intentional about how we measure the awareness of Nashville in the industry, and how we make sure that Nashville really is being recognized for thought leadership throughout the rest of the country.

The second area that we’re really focused on is talent development. Traditionally that has been our Leadership Health Care program, which is 1,000 members strong, and it’s a really incredible program for sort of the young professional. There’s a lot that we can do around talent development, so we’re going to be focusing on other ways that we can help add value for our members and our community. … Innovation is another key piece of this. And I include the [NHCC Fellows initiative] in that. … So we will be talking a lot about innovation in the health care space, and how the council can better facilitate innovation in the community from a health IT space, from a funding space, so we’ll be looking at ways that we can move the need and really create more value for our members, and for earlier stage companies in health care here.

That transitions well into this question: What is your pitch to Nashville’s young health IT startups, who may be running fairly lean as they try to get off the ground? How do you convince them that membership in the council is worth their time, money and energy?

That is a great question and it’s actually one that I’m studying right now, how we can better add value for those folks. Because it’s very important to me that we do really create a space that is welcoming for them and where they can develop the relationships. I think it’s important both for the larger companies we have and the smaller companies, to make sure that they’re able to be in dialog. So we’re really looking into what’s that going to look like. … We’re working closely with [health care accelerator] Jumpstart [Foundry] and the [Entrepreneur Center] … Nashville Capital Network too, we’re not doing this one our own. … We’re definitely not trying to reinvent the wheel. We’re trying to work with those guys to make sure that we can partner appropriately.

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