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President’s Column: Partnering to Promote and Grow Wisconsin’s Health Care Sector

By Eric Borgerding

November 20, 2018

Today, WHA was very proud to join the Wisconsin Technology Council to announce the creation of the Wisconsin Healthcare Business Forum (WHBF).  Adopting some of the traditional traits of a “chamber of commerce,” the WHBF will shine a bright light on a growing and critical sector of Wisconsin’s economy – health care. 
 
For several years, WHA has been telling the story of our high-quality health care delivery system and its importance to the Wisconsin economy.  It’s a message that has gained traction, including with some of Wisconsin’s elected leaders.
 
As Wisconsin continues to define and position for its economic future, however, the role of health care warrants amplification.  Today, through what has become a close and important partnership of two like-minded, future-looking organizations, WHA and the Wisconsin Technology Council, spreading the Wisconsin health care story is about to go to the next level. 
 
The WHBF will serve two seemingly different but ultimately related purposes.  First, the WHBF will convene around and promote Wisconsin’s consistently high-quality care with a focus on how employers and providers can partner to leverage good health care for mutual benefit (lots of good examples out there).  We know that high-quality care, including preventing costlier care, translates into positive immediate and downstream impacts on the workforce, including keeping workers healthy, on the job and productive.  Bending the health care cost curve is a challenge for both health care consumers, employers and providers, but there is plenty of proof that working together can have an impact. 
 
The second key role of the WHBF is to facilitate interaction between the emerging Wisconsin health care tech sector and Wisconsin’s health systems and providers.  In other words, bringing the creators of health care technology together with the users of that technology … and connecting the so-called disruptors with the disrupted. 

Creating the technological means by which health care is delivered is a broad and growing sector in Wisconsin, yet often overshadowed by more long-standing and traditional components of our economy.  In its broadest sense, health care is not only a growing, but it’s arguably the most future-looking sector of the Wisconsin economy.
 
The simple fact that Wisconsin’s population is living longer creates consistent and growing demand for health care services.  Growing demand coupled with innovative health care providers and the imperative to deliver care more efficiently and effectively is driving health care innovation and investment in Wisconsin
 
It will surprise many to learn that the majority of venture capital being invested in Wisconsin is in health care.  Information technology is a close second, with investments in both dwarfing all other sectors.  The fact is, Wisconsin has all the ingredients to attract this type of investment in health care – innovative local and regional health care systems, leading academic medical centers, strong research universities and a talent pool looking for reasons to stay in Wisconsin.

Health care delivery is already Wisconsin’s #2 employer, with hospitals alone directly employing some 108,000+ people (watch for more on this early in 2019).  That’s good news, but for years Wisconsin has been grappling with “brain drain,” raising and educating our best and brightest young people only to see many leave Wisconsin for appealing opportunities in other states.  Given health care’s dynamic future, it can prove to be a key sector for retaining and attracting the creative entrepreneurs, the talent and intellectual capital Wisconsin so desperately needs and for which it is competing.

The ultimate aim of the WHBF is to not just recognize but realize the tremendous potential that health care holds for Wisconsin.  We will do that by convening, connecting and promoting the broader Wisconsin health care sector to make it a prime component of Wisconsin’s economic future.  

To learn more, visit the WHBF website at wishealthbizforum.com.
 

This story originally appeared in the November 20, 2018 edition of WHA Newsletter