Florida’s Health Care Economic Development Opportunity

The time is right for local providers and medical innovators to become a regional health care economic development force.

Once a year, Laser Spine Institute’s surgeons, doctors and health care executives gather at the Center for Advanced Medical Learning and Simulation (CAMLS) in downtown Tampa. Laser Spine Institute hosts this forum to improve our care for our patients—to share best practices, and to find innovative new solutions for those suffering from back and neck pain.

We are evolving in our health care knowledge over the course of those three days, sure. But I can’t help but think about what a facility like CAMLS is doing to change the landscape of advanced medicine the rest of the year. On any other day there, students are learning new technologies that will change the way medical care is delivered. Experts are coming to Tampa Bay to learn, share and innovate within these walls.

I truly believe that health care is being reinvented every day in the Tampa region and across the entire Super Region. I see it in the impact of what we are doing at the Laser Spine Institute, at a place like CAMLS and at other leading institutions, including Moffitt Cancer Center, where doctors are reinventing the process for how patients recover from one of the nation’s most complex diseases.

If the Tampa region can rally around an industry right now, it’s health care. The right mix of industry leaders, educational systems, government support and the drive for economic development are all in place.

The opportunity the health care industry possesses on regional economic growth has been seized by the Tampa Bay Partnership. The organization has identified Applied Medicine & Human Performance as one of four target sectors in the Tampa Bay Regional Business Plan, with that sector alone accounting for about 70 percent of overall jobs.

The Tampa Hillsborough Economic Development Corp. is embracing this sector, too. The organization hosts its second MediFuture conference in 2014. The initiative will create national attention when it brings thought leaders to the region with the goal of disrupting health care and putting Tampa Bay as the example. Global management firm Oliver Wyman serves as consultant on this initiative.

With a climate so ripe, what can we, as health care providers and medical innovators, do to support the movement? We need to own it, embrace it and move it forward. At stake is regional economic development.

To better understand the potential impact, Laser Spine Institute conducted an analysis in partnership with the University of South Florida’s College of Business. The results of the study revealed Laser Spine Institute had an impact of nearly $140 million on the local economy in 2012. This amount included operational expenditures, employee spending and spending by out of area patients. More than 90 percent of patients who come to Laser Spine Institute are non-local residents, driving nearly $14.9 million in medical tourism to the local Tampa Bay economy.

That’s just one example.

As we align and the region becomes even more defined as the destination for quality, specialized health care services, not only will more patients come, but more jobs will come too. Medical companies will thrive. New companies will take notice of the region for consideration as headquarters. And why not? We have a viable workforce, the state is business friendly, and we have access to an amazing location for our employees to live and thrive.

Editor’s note: Dotty Bollinger is president and COO of Laser Spine Institute, with headquarters in Tampa Bay and facilities in Tampa Bay, Philadelphia, Oklahoma City, Houston and Scottsdale, Ariz.