What to expect at the Health IT Leadership Summit: Q&A with the Summit Chair

By Dodge Communications on September 5th, 2014

As we approach the fifth annual Health IT Leadership Summit which will be taking place in November in Atlanta, I spoke with Turner T. Smith, chairman for the 2014 and 2015 Summit, about how the event will bring together some of the industry’s best to discuss the future of healthcare IT and how changes in the industry can drive innovation. We asked Smith to discuss the theme of the Summit, what attendees can expect to gain and why the conference has been so successful and continues to grow.

Dodge: How did you choose “Transformation of Healthcare Delivery” as the theme of this year’s Summit? How does it tie into the changes we’re seeing in healthcare IT?

Smith: We were trying to think of a theme that was relevant and current, as well as one that gave us a chance to really explore the cutting edge of health IT and its clinical applications. As we thought about all of the change healthcare is currently going through, we chose the transformation of healthcare delivery primarily around looking ahead at how healthcare is really bending to much more of a consumer-driven model. We felt like the theme was broad enough to allow us to touch a lot of different aspects of health IT application and delivery, but would also allow our sessions to focus on what health IT and healthcare delivery look like for the consumer, and how consumers are also driving the innovation.

Dodge: What do you feel is the greatest benefit to those attending the Summit?

Smith: It’s two-fold. One being the content and that the Summit is not a tradeshow — it’s truly a Summit that is designed with input from its founding partners, the Technology Association of Georgia’s Health Society, Metro Atlanta Chamber and the Georgia Department of Economic Development.

The benefit of attending is in the information that’s delivered. The Summit is set up to provide information about health IT from a very broad, futuristic view, so a look ahead 15 or 20 years. Where are health IT and healthcare going? What’s it going to look like 20 years from now? We also have session topics in place that will scale that back to a five-year horizon. If I’m doing strategic planning, I can get a good feel at the Summit for whether or not my strategic roadmap is lining up with what’s coming. Is it in sync with what I’m hearing and what are other people doing? Our content modules in the afternoon will give attendees a feel for what they can do today to get started on that roadmap, or to apply and make a difference and push the ball down the field to the things that we’re planning two, three, or four years out.

The networking opportunities afforded at the Summit are also of importance. The Summit provides a forum for clinicians, vendors, government and educators to have a dialogue about what’s needed now.  How can educators get started now on developing a workforce for this industry, and how can industry develop better products to meet the clinical needs of providers and patients? The ability to create that dialogue via the Summit’s networking and business atmosphere is a tremendous opportunity.

Dodge: Now that the Summit is in its fifth year, how have you seen it continue to grow year after year as the healthcare landscape continues to evolve?

Smith: The Summit has grown because it has stayed relevant and germane to all of the stakeholders. By delivering the above-mentioned benefits, the Summit not only continues to stay relevant, but continues to grow as more folks find out about it. We have reached the point where we simply need more space. We’ve moved the venue from the Fox Theatre to the Renaissance Waverly Hotel for year five because it provides a little more space for our audience. We’d like to see that grow to about 1,400 or 1,500 this year. I’d really like to aggressively grow participation and content. I think we’ve got the goods and it’s a matter of getting the word out to get folks there. We’ve now got the venue that can accommodate that, as well as a little more space for sponsors within our Hall of Innovation, which for the first time will include a Startup Pavilion featuring a host of smaller companies looking to make waves in healthcare IT.

I’m very excited about where it’s going and that the word-of-mouth marketing has gotten out about the Summit and what a great show it is. I think that has really taken hold, and as a result our participation and our attendance rate has grown year over year.

Dodge: How do you anticipate the Summit leveraging Atlanta’s stance as the nation’s healthcare IT capital?

Smith: We’re certainly fortunate to call Atlanta home, being that it is the nation’s capital of healthcare IT, but as I mentioned before, we want to discuss the future of healthcare IT from a national perspective. That being said, many of our sponsors call Atlanta home, and so we can’t help but highlight what a strong part this city plays in that national dialogue. athenahealth is a great example. We’re very excited to feature CEO Jonathan Bush as our keynote speaker this year. It’s a nice feather in our cap that they are also in the process of opening up an Atlanta office, and are one of the leaders of disruptive innovation in healthcare IT. We have the rare privilege of swimming in a big pond in Atlanta when it comes to healthcare IT leaders.

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