Nashville Health Care Council: 25 Years Old & Growing

Nov 18, 2020 at 04:54 pm by Staff

This year marks the 25th anniversary of the Nashville Health Care Council, an organization that was founded by the local health care community with the purpose of establishing Nashville as the nation's health care capital. Over the course of the past 25 years, the Council has served as a common ground for Nashville's vibrant health care community, bringing leaders together to grow the industry through education, networking and collaboration.

With board members from leading health care companies, representing several important industry cross-sections, the Council has leveraged member support to strengthen Nashville's legacy. In revisiting the 25-year history of the Nashville Health Care Council, we see the active role the Council has played over more than two decades and continues to play in the industry today, along with what the Council believes the future will entail for Nashville's $92 billion dollar health care industry.

Entrepreneurial and Collaborative Roots

Since its founding in 1995, the Council's rich history is filled with a mix of public and private leaders who have launched some of the nation's most influential health care companies and have long served as drivers of Nashville's health care community. From early industry pillars such as Drs. Thomas F. Frist Sr. and Jr. and Jack C. Massey, who launched companies creating the modern-day HCA Healthcare, to leaders in the Council's operational beginning, Joseph Hutts (first chairman) and Laura Campbell (first executive director/president), these innovators and many others were instrumental in creating a foundation for the Nashville Health Care Council's lasting leadership.

Throughout this time, the Council has had the honor of fortifying a thriving industry and has tracked the evolution of the industry's most innovative and long-lasting advancements. Industry-shifting innovations - such as the for-profit care model created by HCA Healthcare and physician practice management and freestanding ambulatory surgery centers as industry subsectors driven by PhyCor and Surgical Hospital Affiliates - have not only benefited the local community but also the health care industry at large.

Through inventive partnerships, Council members have established new models for care delivery and scaled the delivery of care in new settings. Member companies have launched some of the nation's largest and most influential health care services and IT companies from the ground up, such as HealthStream, Change Healthcare, Tivity Health and others ... all while witnessing clinical advances because of ground-breaking research and physician education at Vanderbilt University and Meharry Medical College.

In 1998, the Council debuted a visual aid representing the burgeoning startup culture of Nashville's health care industry. Proudly displayed in the offices of Council member companies, the Nashville Health Care Industry Family Tree is a unique illustration of Nashville and the Council's evolution as an unparalleled health care industry network. More than 750 companies are listed on the Family Tree and serve a symbol of the interconnectivity, entrepreneurial nature and collaborative spirit that defines Nashville's health care expertise.

With more than 20 percent of member companies headquartered outside of Tennessee, the "roots" on the Family Tree now stem well beyond Nashville with relationships across national and international borders. Many relationships have been forged through the 13 past International Health Care Study Missions conducted by the Council and the Nashville Area Chamber of Commerce, which help extend Nashville's economic impact.

As an ever-evolving organization, the Council has continued to shift with the needs of Nashville's health care industry. In 2002, the Council launched an initiative to strengthen relationships amongst Nashville's health care workforce and develop up-and-coming health care professionals. Originally named, Young Health Care Leaders, today Leadership Health Care (LHC) continues to build upon its original mandate to nurture the talents of future leaders by providing LHC members with unique educational programs and networking opportunities. Today, LHC has nearly 600 members representing more than 200 companies.

In 2013, the Nashville Health Care Council and former U.S. Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, MD, created the Nashville Health Care Council Fellows program out of a need to develop and bring together C-suite executives from the nation's top health care organizations. As the nation's premier national health care executive leadership program, Fellows boasts a world-class curriculum and serves as a forum to exchange industry insight with peers. More than 250 graduates of the program are in cities across the U.S. and help shine a national spotlight on Nashville as the nation's health care industry capital. The Fellows, alongside the program's leadership and an impressively long list of renowned lecturers, demonstrate the impact of convening the industry's brightest minds in one room.

Nashville to the Nation

As the city's health care community continued to grow, Nashville became a major contributor to the local and global economy. Now home to more than 900 companies affiliated with the industry, Nashville-based health care firms have facilities in all 50 states and operate in more than eight countries around the world.

As of 2018, the local health care sector contributes an economic benefit of more than $46.7 billion and more than 270,000 jobs to the Nashville economy annually. The industry also generates more than $92 billion in revenue and more than 570,000 jobs globally. These notable figures are linked to an impressive cadre of prestigious health care companies that call Middle Tennessee home. The nation and the world have benefited from the engaged leadership at these companies, many of whom have served on the Nashville Health Care Council's rotating board of directors.

Today, action from the Council's board of 30 world-class leaders has never been more important. In 2020, the industry is managing a global health crisis on a scale unseen in at least a century. The Council Board has risen to the occasion to collaborate and address the challenges the nation is facing.

Recognizing that Council members were uniquely positioned to offer a national perspective on the COVID-19 pandemic and implement solutions that improved the efficacy and safety of front-line workers, the Nashville Health Care Council formed the COVID-19 Readiness Team. Representing more than 200 member companies, this team of Council members, partners, and public health experts came together to take on the unknowns of the virus.

As the COVID-19 pandemic began to have a critical impact, collaboration deepened within the industry and among Council members. The Council continued to advance content and networking experiences by introducing new virtual programming via listening sessions with public figures, such as U.S. Senator Lamar Alexander (R-TN), Brad Smith, deputy administrator and director, Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services and Seema Verma, administrator, Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services.

During the middle of the pandemic, the nation experienced a racial reckoning. The U.S. found itself at a crux between undeniable racial, economic, and public health tensions following the unjust murder of George Floyd by officers of the Minneapolis Police Department. In response, the Nashville Health Care Council Board released a commitment to action on addressing racial inequities in health care, created a Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) Taskforce and hired a consulting firm to develop a long-term action plan.

In addition, the LHC Board promptly created a DEI Taskforce and researched all programming and activities to make improvements that provide a consistent and valuable experience for all members. Council Fellows co-chair Frist, MD, challenged all Fellows Alumni to listen and engage. In response, the network of alumni is actively sharing ideas for solutions to fight systemic racism in the industry.

In recognition of the Council's 25th anniversary, the Nashville Health Care Council, Council Fellows and Leadership Health Care will continue to focus on these timely initiatives and other key programs throughout the year, including supporting entrepreneurship with a pitch contest awarding $25,000 in prize funds, enhancements to the Fellows program, and new thought leadership efforts.

25 Years of Inspiring Innovation

Twenty-five years ago, the Council knew that bringing together a range of skill sets, perspectives and intellect from a variety of industry sectors would lead to the best solutions. The future of health care lies in continued collaboration and inclusion. These values have been engrained in and continue to grow from Nashville's health care community.

"As we look to the future, the Council and Nashville will continue to diversify the types of health care companies and leaders needed to improve health care at scale, and as a result, advance Nashville's role as the health care capital of the nation," said Nashville Health Care Council President Hayley Hovious.

"With the know-how to cultivate, nurture and grow relationships, the Council's collaborative spirit will continue to lead to meaningful partnerships which will drive and inspire innovation - ultimately growing health care companies and advancing the health of all communities for the better."

With more than 300 member companies headquartered in and outside of Tennessee and more than 6,700 event attendees each year, the Council will continue to serve as a forum to exchange ideas and a place for substantive conversations that will drive industry-wide positive change.

An Enduring Legacy

A quarter of a century ago, the Nashville Health Care Council was founded with the bold vision of establishing Nashville as the nation's health care capital. As we have looked back on the history of the Council, we have seen the importance of collaboration throughout its history - from its founding in 1995 by the health care community to companies collaborating in a wide-scale effort to combat COVID-19 to looking towards the future by investing in health care startups. The Nashville Health Care Council looks forward to continuing to inspire global collaboration to improve health care by serving as a catalyst for leadership and innovation over the next 25 years and beyond.

For more information on the Nashville Health Care Council and its 25th anniversary key initiatives visit


Nashville Health Care Council

Council Timeline

October 1995: The Nashville Health Care Council Holds its First Meeting

  • The Nashville Health Care Council is formed to protect, strengthen and elevate the city's status as a national health care capital. With guidance from the Nashville Area Chamber of Commerce, the Council is put under the control of founding director Laura Campbell.
  • The Council is founded during one of the most prolific, pivotal times of the industry. At the time, the Nashville health care industry is responsible for $3.7 billion in income and provides 53,000 jobs to the area -- significant numbers that will grow tenfold over the next two decades.
  • The group's first meeting convenes leaders from 27 founding member organizations in a basement at Belmont University. PhyCor CEO Joe Hutts, founding chairman of NHCC's board, looks around the room and remarks, "This is a really important group. I just get the idea we should do a deal or something." Though he's joking, many Council member organizations will do just that in the years ahead.

1998: The Council Debuts the Family Tree

  • The Council debuts its first official "Family Tree," a large-scale visual depiction of the interconnectedness and entrepreneurial nature within Nashville's sprawling health care industry. The graphic maps the origins and ties between many of Nashville's companies, beginning with the hospital companies of the 1960s through the HIT startups of the 21st century. Over the years, as the tree grows, the diagram becomes a beloved symbol of Nashville health care's dynamic community. It becomes a common conversation piece on office walls around town and beyond.

1999: First International Trade Mission

  • Nashville Health Care Council leads trade mission to the U.K. and Germany. By 2020, the Council will host more than 300 health care leaders representing nearly 100 companies on 13 international health care study missions.

2000: Nashville Health Care Council Membership Tops 100 Organizations

  • The Council proudly welcomes its 100th member. This milestone is reflective of Nashville's growing health care community, collaborative spirit and expanding influence. By 2020, the Council will boast more than 300 member companies.

2002: Nashville Health Care Council Creates Young Health Care Leaders In 2005, Name Changes to Leadership Health Care

  • Nashville Health Care Council creates the Young Health Care Leaders organization to support and foster the community's rising health care professionals. The organization's mission is to cultivate the talent of up-and-coming health care professionals into the health care leaders of tomorrow. Under chairman Michael Drescher and vice chairman Hal Andrews, the group sought to provide professionals with ongoing opportunities to develop their knowledge of the health care industry through educational events and networking opportunities. The initiative is significant because it signals Nashville's intentions to serve as the health care capital for future generations.

December 2009: The Council presents Crystal Leaf Award

Dr. Harry Jacobson, a respected nephrologist and proven businessman, receives this award for his significant role in fostering health care innovation and entrepreneurialism in Nashville. In addition to his role as Vice Chancellor of Vanderbilt University Medical Center, Jacobson is a founder of several health care companies and oversees several health care investment funds and remains an active influencer in the industry.

November 2012: Nashville Health Care Council Creates the Fellows Program

  • The Nashville Health Care Council and former U.S. Senate Majority Leader Dr. Bill Frist launch an initiative designed to engage select senior industry leaders to explore new business strategies and meet the challenges facing the U.S. health care system in the years ahead. The program is co-chaired by Sen. Frist and Larry Van Horn, associate professor of management and executive director of health affairs at Vanderbilt University's Owen Graduate School of Management. Similar to the start of the Nashville Health Care Council itself, local companies invest in Fellows, displaying the area's collaborative spirit.
  • Each year, roughly 30 Fellows, chosen selectively from every sector of the industry, complete a unique curriculum featuring nationally renowned speakers in leadership, health care, economics and business strategies. As part of its alumni program, Fellows creates an influential, diverse and active network that spans the Nashville health care community and beyond, through different sectors of the industry and all types of organizations.

December 2015: Leadership Health Care Hits Record 1,000 Members

  • Leadership Health Care membership topped 1,000 individuals in December 2015 - a new milestone for the organization.

2018: HCA Healthcare Celebrates its 50th Anniversary

  • HCA Healthcare marks its 50th year of operations. The creation of HCA gave birth to Nashville's iconic and legendary health care industry. HCA is the first investor-owned hospital company in U.S. history and was the beginning of a larger, industry-wide transition where hospitals morphed from a cottage industry into chains with efficiencies and economies of scale. Today, HCA is the largest hospital company in the world.

March 2020: COVID-19 Readiness Team

  • Nashville Health Care Council Establishes COVID-19 Readiness Team. In response to the worldwide pandemic, the Council establishes a COVID-19 Readiness Team, holding its first meeting in March 2020 with more than 50 attendees. Robust information is gathered and shared among participants. The team continues with regular virtual meetings over the next several months with the goal of gathering members and other partners to assess the impact of the pandemic, disseminate reliable information, exchange resources and help track response efforts to the virus.

June 2020: Nashville Health Care Council Releases a "Commitment to Action on Racial Inequities"

  • The Council Board of Directors announces a commitment to inclusion and diversity and pledges to form a substantive plan of action in response to the country's racial, economic and public health tensions.

October 2020: Nashville Health Care Council Focuses on Seven Key Initiatives of 25th Year

  • In its 25th year, the Nashville Health Care Council will focus on seven key initiatives: Honoring Nashville's legacy, COVID-19 Response, Racial Equity, Supporting Entrepreneurship, Nashville to the Nation, new thought leadership efforts and Program Growth

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