Council News

October 11, 2011

Opportunity Amid Uncertainty (The City Paper)

Opportunity Amid Uncertainty (The City Paper)
by Judith Byrd | Oct 03, 2011

Health care market has to deal with big-time risk aversion, but creativity, collaboration will make a difference.

Although widespread market volatility and regulatory and economic uncertainty will create challenges for many companies in the months to come, Nashville’s health care industry remains well positioned to grow and remain vital.

On Sept. 22 and 23, the Nashville Health Care Council’s Leadership Health Care initiative hosted its biennial Delegation to Wall Street. Held just steps from the World Trade Center site, the two-day event brought together more than 70 emerging Nashville health care leaders with internationally known financial experts from the private-equity, investment banking, debt financing and financial analysis worlds to discuss economic and deal-making trends impacting the health care sector.

At times, the dialogue was sobering. The delegation sessions began in the shadow of debt ceiling talks on Capitol Hill and as the Dow was experiencing a rapid decline. Our speakers outlined many of the difficulties they are seeing in their day-to-day work – from the sovereign debt crisis, unpredictable global markets and concerns about the growth of the U.S. economy, to the unknowns of health reform and the threat of declining reimbursements.

Several of our experts noted how difficult completing deals can be in the current economic and regulatory environment. Uncertainty and volatility, they said, create an undeniable risk aversion among investors.

While the financial forecast we heard at the Delegation to Wall Street was not as optimistic as we all might have wished, the story was not an entirely bleak one. As we looked down upon the rebuilding of the World Trade Center site, we were reminded of how, in times of great strife, people can come together in powerful ways in the interest of the greater good.

Economic ambiguity and market instability can also drive creativity and collaboration. Our health care system is evolving, and companies that can solve problems and enable more efficient and effective ways to provide care will, in the long run, do well. Companies that seek inventive partnerships also have great opportunity. We heard from several of our speakers about the innovative ways health care organizations and the financial sector are working together to strengthen and advance the health care industry.

One very successful case study is the Ascension Health Care Network, a unique joint venture between Ascension Health and Oak Hill Capital Partners that is providing financial, operational and clinical resources to its nonprofit hospitals and health systems.

In the end, the delegation left New York with confidence that Nashville’s health care sector is well positioned to capture the opportunities that exist in today’s shifting health care and financial landscapes. Nashville has a four-decade legacy of health care leadership and an infrastructure that provides companies of all sizes with access to the capital and resources they need to be successful.

Our city is home to a unique combination of cross-sector health care expertise and more than 250 health care companies in diverse areas such as hospital management, health IT, disease management and clinical research. This talent and diversity is paired with an entrepreneurial spirit and culture of collaboration that is unmatched in other parts of the nation.

So while there are undoubtedly challenges ahead, Nashville’s $70 billion health care industry is poised to lead in the months to come. The Nashville Health Care Council looks forward to being on this journey with you.

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