Atlanta Vies For 'Capital Of Health IT' - InformationWeek

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5/11/2011
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Atlanta Vies For 'Capital Of Health IT'

Riding on the success of a growing vendor market and the recent HIMSS conference, the city's chamber of commerce is pitching the southern city as the "epicenter for health information technology."

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Several major health IT companies in the Atlanta region are attempting to make the city the "Nation's Capital of Health IT" and the "epicenter for health information technology" development, jobs, and investment, according to the Metro Atlanta Chamber of Commerce's strategy for marketing the city.

"We are very bullish on health IT," said David Hartnett, vice president for bioscience and health IT industry development at the chamber.

In the most recent development, St. Paul, Minn.-based enterprise resource planning software vendor Lawson Software accepted a $2 billion privatization offer. The prospective buyer is private equity firm GGC Software Holdings, an affiliate of both Golden Gate Capital in San Francisco, and Infor, an Alpharetta, Ga.-based company that offers similar business software and services.

When the deal closes, likely in the third quarter, a new business deal between "Infor and Lawson will create a rich, integrated enterprise application suite," Infor CEO Charles Phillips said in a release, and healthcare will be one of the combined company's strongest markets. Infor, which is majority-owned by Golden Gate Capital, also promises "richer and deeper functionality in the verticals where the companies have complementary strengths," including healthcare, where Lawson historically has been stronger.

While Lawson's headquarters will remain in the Twin Cities, the Atlanta area will gain a larger presence in health IT, as Infor is one of about 200 other companies involved in health IT that together employ upwards of 10,000 people in Georgia.

Other major health IT companies in the Atlanta metro include McKesson Technology Solutions (the health IT arm of San Francisco-based healthcare services behemoth McKesson) in Alpharetta, Greenway Medical Technologies in suburban Carrolton, Atlanta-based Webmedx, Navicure in Duluth, and the former Eclipsys, which is now the Atlanta-based inpatient systems division of Allscripts, headquartered in Chicago. WebMD, Sage Software, Nuesoft, Siemens Medical Solutions USA, NCR subsidiary dbMotion, and GE Healthcare also have offices in and around Atlanta.

Hartnett knew Atlanta had a rich health IT community, but the idea to position the region as an industry hub apparently came from the Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society (HIMSS), which held its 2010 annual conference in Georgia's capital. At a Chamber-hosted party for HIMSS board members prior to the start of the conference, HIMSS president and CEO H. Stephen Lieber called Atlanta the nation's capital of health IT, according to Hartnett.

In an email, Lieber said doesn't recall using those exact words, but did say, "Atlanta certainly can lay claim to being a critical hub for the industry as measured by corporate headquarters." Lieber specifically mentioned Greenway and McKesson's health IT division. "When he said that," Hartnett recalled, "then we started getting calls off the hook."

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