As we noted in advance of the Leadership Health Care biennial trip to Wall Street, timing is everything (NMN, “Straight to the Source,” September 2011).
When the approximately 70 delegates landed in New York City on Sept. 22, rancor still lingered over the debt ceiling debate, the stock market was on yet another wild roller coaster ride, and angry protesters had just occupied Wall Street. Despite the somber backdrop, Nashville’s emerging healthcare leaders gained valuable insight into the current market climate and even gleaned tidbits of good news for the industry.
The delegation, which was educational in nature, gave attendees the opportunity to further develop their knowledge of healthcare financing and provided a clear picture of funding mechanisms, deal-making trends and the overall process.
“Despite economic uncertainty, the trip highlighted areas of opportunity for Nashville’s entrepreneurial healthcare cluster,” said Judith Byrd, director of LHC, an initiative of the Nashville Health Care Council. She noted the experts agreed, “Companies with creative and flexible delivery models and those that focus on innovation will do well … as will companies that rely less heavily on federal reimbursement.”
She continued, “The delegation provided timely and important information. Gaining market knowledge and understanding of the deal-making climate is key for Nashville’s emerging healthcare executives.”
David S. Bassin, chief financial officer for MedSolutions, a Franklin-based medical cost management firm that recently announced a $16 million expansion and the addition of more than 250 jobs, also found the trip to be a great learning experience. “It’s always good to understand Wall Street and private equity’s view on healthcare,” he said.
Like Byrd, Bassin said the financial professionals addressing the group stressed the need to identify opportunities in the marketplace and to find innovative solutions to the problems facing America’s healthcare system. He believes that is one reason his company has continued to grow and expand despite the harsh economic climate. “In a time period when costs are a major impediment for our society, particularly in healthcare, our ability to protect the patient while reducing wasteful spending is very attractive.”
Jonathan Connor, manager of development for Sarah Cannon Cancer Services, noted, “The panelists’ outlook on the proposed topics was certainly varied, but for me … and I think for most of the LHC attendees … it served as an affirmation that healthcare is and will continue to be an integral part of our country’s future – on a personal, professional and national level.”
He added, “LHC assembled a talented and diverse panelist group that was able to provide historical, current and future insight on the healthcare landscape. It was interesting to hear the detail around the panelists’ day-to-day as opposed to the macro-level we read in newspapers and industry news.”
The day the LHC delegation arrived was a particularly rough one for the Dow. Connor viewed the upheaval as a learning experience. “We are all familiar with the current uncertainly in both finance and healthcare, and it proved timely that the market was unstable during our short time there. Charles Ditkoff, vice chairman of Global Corporate and Investment Banking at Bank of America Merrill Lynch, prefaced his presentation with the warning ‘I put these slides together a few days ago, so they may be completely out-of-date’ to prove a point of the volatility in our current environment.”
Connor added, “LHC’s Delegation to Wall Street was a unique opportunity for me. Having worked in NYC for 4 years and recognizing both the power and knowledge-base of the city, it was impressive to see finance and healthcare executives look at our group from Nashville as true healthcare leaders. It was clear our diverse healthcare footprint … and the LHC … continues to attract Wall Street’s attention.
Bassin, who just relocated to Nashville over the summer, noted, “You really do realize the intellectual capacity that the business community in Nashville has around healthcare.” In fact, both attendees said the opportunity to network with other delegates was an equally valuable component to the trip. “You’re bringing together people from many different subsectors of healthcare with different angles and perspectives. To bring that group together in a collaborative fashion is really unique,” Bassin continued.
“It’s a phenomenal way to get to know people … get to know what they do,” agreed Connor. “You begin to understand how closely knit Nashville is in a good way.”
Connor concluded, “Our industry is in for a ride, but if we can continue to share best practices and focus on the challenges we can control, I think it will continue to be an exciting and positive time for healthcare.”