SA Healthcare on the Rise! Networking Lunch, August 12, 2014

A Two-Tiered Perspective on Growth
by Beth Eby

Trinity University’s Dr. Mary Stefl and The 80/20 Foundation’s Scott Meltzer treated attendees to a lively discussion about the trends that are propelling SA’s healthcare and bioscience industry to prominence. One’s perspective is specifically healthcare, and the other has a community-based, tech-centered point of view. Both are enthusiastic, enlightening, and fact-driven, and the combination gave the audience a unique two-tiered view of the forces that will shape healthcare and related industries for the next several years.

Professor and former chair of Trinity’s department of health care administration, Dr. Stefl is a national authority on the teaching of healthcare administration and leadership. She gave participants a glimpse of the curriculum that is followed by students in Trinity’s renowned program. She stressed the importance of anchor institutions in the development of healthcare as an anchor industry, citing a number of strong partners in the local area that included hospital systems, public entities, and civic-minded corporations.

Dr. Stefl shared insight into the growth of the local industry from her perspective as co-author of the Greater Chamber’s biennial Economic Impact Study on Healthcare and Bioscience. The study quantifies employment and highlights major events that have affected the size and makeup of the local payroll. Now wrapping up her 9th round as an author of the report, she told the healthcare leaders in attendance that an update will be published later this year for the period ending in 2013. She discussed study’s process, the industry’s trajectory, and some thoughts for the future. Among the trends, Stefl said that the delivery of healthcare services in non-traditional settings–such as minor emergency centers, clinics inside retail stores, and other non-hospital settings–has increased locally and nationally and is likely to continue as insurers and patients seek out less costly ways to access routine care. She pointed to the growth in the medical device sector as another very positive trend, and an area where there The Health Cell and The 80/20 Foundation will have shared interests.

Stefl related her experiences visiting with Meltzer at the Foundation’s offices at Geekdom. She pointed specifically to the novel models of engagement and collaboration as she encouraged others to visit and observe their work first-hand. Meltzer related that the Foundation’s founder, Rackspace CEO and co-founder Graham Weston, is known to ask business leaders “what will you be famous for?” He said that assets like Trinity’s healthcare administration that attract people to SA from around the country and around the world are the kinds of attributes that grow a community’s fame as a great place to live and work.

Meltzer shared an enticing vision of the future of San Antonio’s urban core. He further laid out a plan for broadening opportunity through technology and education. Sharing the history and mission of The 80/20 Foundation through the lens of its three focus areas, he encouraged the utilization in new ways of existing community strengths. Meltzer explained that healthcare is not among those focus areas but that there is a direct link, as assets like transportation and housing and healthcare are vital for a healthy community.

Meltzer and Stefl discussed two new perceived trends in economic development: first, companies are no longer enticed by projections of talent and resources available in the future but instead elect to go where these are already in place and, second, people are increasing choosing a livable community and then finding employment there, rather than moving where the job sends them. The two presenters agreed that strong industries develop in harmony with strong communities.

Meltzer detailed the Foundation’s work in contributing a vibrant, livable community by referencing several studies and articles that are based on or report on those efforts. He told the audience that the documents contain great talking points for anyone who travels for their work and wants to share SA’s story, who recruits people to the community, or who just wants to understand the larger context of the community’s growth. Meltzer invited Health Cell supporters to read about the City on the Rise and Under Construction projects and to click inside the articles to download the full reports. He encouraged healthcare leaders to read The Brain Gain to find out if talent is leaving SA or being attracted here.

In the context of an already very positive outlook for healthcare and bioscience in San Antonio, Meltzer and Stefl were an example of new combinations creating powerful new perspectives. They encouraged the assembled healthcare leaders to continue to propel the industry by being good collaborators and seeking meaningful partnerships within the industry and in the community at large.