Left to right: Jamie Lee, director of events and sponsorships, Nashville Health Care Council; Blewett Melton, director of international business, Nashville Area Chamber of Commerce; Alejandro Wolff, U.S. Ambassador to Chile; Jack O. Bovender, Jr.
Healthcare Meetings in Argentina, Chile Forge New Relationships
In mid-November, the Nashville Health Care Council and Nashville Area Chamber of Commerce partnered on the Ninth International Health Care Trade Mission, taking more than two dozen executives to Santiago, Chile and Buenos Aires, Argentina. (See related story below.)
Led by Jack O. Bovender, Jr., HCA retired chairman and CEO, this most recent international trade mission was the first outside of Europe. “We did a bit of due diligence on healthcare systems in Chile and Argentina,” Council President Caroline Young explained of the decision to plan a South American mission. “Both countries have a growing private sector,” she continued, adding government officials and business leaders were open to receiving a Nashville delegation and the Chamber already had forged some relationships in that part of the world.
“Although these were very different marketplaces, we saw similar challenges that we’ve seen in other parts of the globe related to providing healthcare to their citizens and that includes a growing older population, increased incidence of chronic disease and increased cost of care,” noted Young.
The trade missions, designed to open dialogues to pave the way for future business and educational collaborations and to establish Nashville has an international leader in healthcare solutions, include meetings with high-level government officials and industry leaders in the host nations. “These missions really serve to keep Nashville top-of-mind on a global level,” Young said.
The South American mission featured briefings with key U.S. Embassy officials including a reception hosted by U.S. Ambassador to Chile Alejandro Wolff; meetings with private industry executives and educational leaders for perspectives on healthcare delivery and payment systems in both countries; insight from government officials including Chile’s Health Minister Jaime Mañalich, PhD, MD; a briefing on financing trends for healthcare in Latin America, and a panel discussion with leaders from Argentina’s workers’ unions.
Local participant John R. Lowry, JD, assistant dean for Executive Education at Lipscomb University College of Business, said his academic institution is keenly aware of the need to think globally.
“We recognize we live in a shrinking world,” said Lowry. “We have to prepare the next generation of business leaders to think beyond our borders. This trip was an opportunity to not only connect with the healthcare leaders who will be critical partners but also an opportunity to learn about the healthcare systems in Chile and Argentina and learn about what opportunities exist for education in that part of the world.”
He continued, “Lipscomb has been named the lead education partner for the Nashville Medical Trade Center. That has led us down the road of pursuing healthcare education development opportunities and developing a suite of healthcare education programming.”
Lowry said he had a great conversation about nursing education with Chile’s Minister of Health. That country, like many others, is facing a severe nursing shortage over the coming decade. “Here is an example of where more robust education programs are needed,” he pointed out. Lowry added his experience was replicated by other Nashville delegates representing different points of knowledge and experience in the healthcare continuum.
“What this trip confirmed to me is that Nashville … with all our expertise in operating healthcare enterprises and healthcare entities … has something to not only offer the United States but to offer the world.”
Participating in his first Council/Chamber trade mission, Lowry said he would go on another one “in a heartbeat” as the trip provided important networking opportunities both internationally and amongst the local attendees, and it set the stage for value that will be realized down the road.
“This type of relationship building is a marathon and not a sprint,” Young noted of the international trips. Previous missions continue to result in new alliances and open doors to investment opportunities (see box). According to the Council, Nashville currently has 56 local healthcare headquarters generating global employment of approximately 400,000 and revenues upward of $60 billion annually.
The eight prior European trade missions have included stops in the United Kingdom, Sweden, Germany, France, Spain, Belgium, Italy, Hungary, the Czech Republic, Poland, Austria, and the Netherlands. In addition, local executives expanded Nashville’s reputation for healthcare expertise to Asia by participating in the 2009 virtual mission to India sponsored by the Council and Chamber and in two past missions to China hosted by the State of Tennessee (2007 and 2009).
Results of Past International Trade Missions
The international trade missions are designed to expand the understanding of health systems in the host nations, discover unmet needs where local expertise might fill a gap, foster new relationships and open lines of communication, and solidify Nashville’s reputation as an international leader in healthcare. In the aftermath of the first eight missions, several seeds that were planted are now bearing fruit.
- Collaboration with SWECARE, a public-private partnership based in Stockholm, to sponsor an international healthcare conference at the Swedish Embassy in Washington featuring several Nashville-based experts as speakers this past May.
- Partnership with London-based Public Policy Projects to host a high-level discussion dinner with Nashville and UK executives and officials in London this past March.
- Multiple executive-level trips to Nashville to study our healthcare industry by key stakeholders in Japan, Sweden, Hungary and the United Kingdom.
- Additionally, multiple Nashville-based companies have forged ties abroad over the past decade.
- HCA operates six hospitals in London.
- Healthways has established an international unit to manage contracts in Germany, Brazil and Australia.
- Gresham Smith & Partners has worked on numerous international ventures, including a recent project in China.
- Dream Systems, a telehealth company, is exploring plans to open a UK office based on connections established during the 2010 mission to London and Edinburgh.
- Sarah Cannon Research Institute has launched their first international program for clinical trials based in London.
- ProjX, in partnership with Global Health Partners of London, is using its experience in bariatric programming and space planning to assist in the rollout of new specialty-focused facilities in the UK and other parts of Europe.
- China Health Care Corp., founded by locals Chuck Elcan and Thomas F. Frist, Jr., is launching a first-of-its-kind joint venture with the Chinese government to build hospitals in China.