“Pill Hill” area in Sandy Springs.

The Sandy Springs/Perimeter Chamber of Commerce recently invited the top names in the local medical community to talk about an alliance that could reshape the landscape of medicine in the Atlanta metro area.

The chamber wants to put together a healthcare collaborative, a partnership with the goal of turning Sandy Springs – and Atlanta – into a “Silicon Valley” of healthcare, an area that would provide the atmosphere and possibilities for innovation in medicine that the California community offered for companies and entrepreneurs working on computers.

A May 17 luncheon, held at St. Joseph’s Hospital, served as a brainstorming session, featuring leaders of the local medical and business community.

Among those who took part were David Cook, commissioner of the state department of community health; Randy Edwards, CEO of the American Red Cross, Southern Region; Scott Schmidly, CEO of St. Joseph’s Hospital; Dan McBride, Director of Institutional Advancement for the Gwinnett Tech Foundation; Ross Mason, founder of the Healthcare Institute for Neuro-Recovery and Innovation; and David Tatum, vice president of Government Affairs at Children’s Healthcare Atlanta.

Chamber Board Chairman Rusty Paul said he wants the group to take inventory and leverage what the community already has to build something better, to “optimize the economic opportunities.”

“Sandy Springs is the geographic center of the metropolitan region,” he said.

But where to start? Joy Lynn Fields, who served as moderator, put the questions out there and the room liked the sound of “Silicon Valley,” but the attendees said there were barriers to making progress.

They named traffic as a roadblock. They also saw limited growth opportunities outside the boundaries around the medical cluster in the Perimeter area known as “Pill Hill” – a grouping of medical offices and hospitals that includes St. Joseph’s Hospital, Northside Hospital, Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta and Emory University medical facilities.

Attendees also said there isn’t enough venture capital for new projects. The group also discussed offering tax breaks as incentives, collaborating on research and finding a better way to exchange information, like patient data and best practices.

Paul said the meeting was a first step and many more discussions will follow.

Mason thought the group was headed in the right direction.

“It’s great they’re bringing people together,” he said.

Dan Whisenhunt

Dan Whisenhunt wrote for Reporter Newspapers from 2011 - 2014. He is the founder and editor of Decaturish.com