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BioDistrict New Orleans liaises with Chicago health group

5th February 2013   ·   0 Comments

By Susan Buchanan
Contributing Writer

You’ve heard about and maybe even attended those giant downtown, medical conventions that attract 30,000 people. Chicago-based Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society or HIMSS—a nonprofit focused on information technology—plans a huge, early March gathering in New Orleans. Last year, the Bio?District of New Orleans accepted an offer from HIMSS to provide free, health IT training for locals this February 21 and March 5, along with a couple of webinars.

The city’s BioDistrict, a state agency, is anchored by the University Medical Center and Veterans Affairs Medical Center—with both under construction—along with the Louisiana Cancer Research Consortium building and the New Orleans BioInnovation Center.

The link between the BioDistrict and HIMSS is worth monitoring because it might grow beyond free seminars, possibly at the expense of local experts who could steer the District’s IT training. Greater New Orleans—a health hub in the South—has its own medical IT and job services. But the BioDistrict is interested in creating a health IT training center in which HIMSS might play a key role.

Last week, James P. McNamara, president and CEO, said “we were approached by HIMSS ahead of it early March conference at the Morial Convention Center.” He said HIMSS, with over 45,000 members, is the world’s biggest nonprofit dedicated to developing the health IT industry..”While they’re in town, they have agreed to partner with the BioDistrict to provide job training courses, access to their Venture Capital Fair, job placement and other services.”

At its convention, HIMSS Career Services Institute will hold a March 5 day of training, open to anyone who registers, McNamara said. “This is a no-charge, first-come, first-served event, providing excellent support for career services initiatives in health care today.” The seminar, led by Peggy Parks, founder of The Parks Image Group, Inc. in Atlanta, is for all career levels and those hoping to enter health IT. The event is called “IS YOUR PERSONAL BRAND CONNECTED OR UNPLUGGED? The ABCs of Authentically Standing out From the Crowd: Appearance, Behavior and Communication.”

For the BioDistrict, HIMSS is producing two webinars—one of which was on January 28, with another planned for February 5—followed by a half day of training on February 21 at a location yet to be announced and the March 5 event, McNamara said. Those who attend can earn training certification, he said. For more information, visit www.biodistrict New

“This is a great opportunity, presented by a convention that wants to leave a positive, lasting impact on the community,” McNamara said. “The relationship with HIMSS will end with the closing of the convention. HIMSS is a professional society and a nonprofit association donating training services to our community, with nothing more and no money exchanged.”

He added “this training does not exclude, but rather includes the traditional job training outlets of New Orleans Job Corps, the local universities and healthcare placement agencies.” He said the BioDistrict would be happy to accept a similar donation of services from any local group.

McNamara said “New Orleans is well suited to expand its health IT sector through the work of the Louisiana Public Health Institute, the Chamber of Commerce and BioDistrict partners that include LSU, Tulane, Xavier and Delgado. To help implement HIMSS Career Services Health IT Certification, we have partnered with Todd McDonald, a local entrepreneur and creator of” Web-based connects employers with job seekers.

Longer term, McNamara said “we, the BioDistrict, are interested in working with HIMSS on a permanent training center that will attract people interested in health IT from around the country to New Orleans for specialized training.” That raises a red flag, however, about whether a Chicago-based, rather than a Louisiana entity, might take the lead in such a project.

When asked last week if the BioDistrict is subject to state bidding laws as it seeks services, Louisiana Division of Administration spokesman Michael DiResto said “the entity is not governed by the state Office of Contractual Review statutes and regulations. As a political subdivision, they probably have their own requirements that they follow.”

As for the possibility of the BioDistrict contracting for a training center with HIMSS, Mc?Namara said, “if it were to happen, and that’s a big if, we would be the landlord and they would be the tenant.”

This article was originally published in the February 4, 2013 print edition of The Louisiana Weekly newspaper

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