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Madison aiming to be epicenter for HIT

April 7, 2013 7:30 am by | 0 Comments

Wisconsin photo by Flickr user kadavy

Madison's new cluster of health care technology companies is coming into its own.

With at least five local businesses started by former Epic Systems Corp. employees that have created about 400 jobs in the past three years as well as other companies without Epic ties, a Madison health tech meetup group has been formed. The group has nearly 150 participants, organizer Jonathan Baran said.

"The premise is: How do we turn Madison into 'the' place to be for people looking to innovate in health care IT?" he said.

Baran, who's not from Epic, is co-founder of HealthFinch, which makes productivity applications for physicians. The two-year-old company has six full-time and three part-time employees.

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The Madison area already has health care companies such as Epic; several hospitals; GE Healthcare; data analytics company Forward Health Group; and promising medical device companies such as Asthmapolis, said Baran, who was born in Appleton and grew up near Cincinnati.

Madison may not be able to become another Silicon Valley, Baran said. "But what we could be really good at is health care IT. And one of the reasons is Epic."

Leaders of the meetup group have a "grand vision," Baran said, with two main goals:

--Create a space where health care IT companies can set up shop together, preferably Downtown.

--Organize a summit to showcase local companies to potential investors and customers.

The president of St. Mary's Hospital, Dr. Frank Byrne, said he's excited about the innovative ideas the young entrepreneurs are bringing to the industry.

"I love the vibrancy that these bright folks ... bring to our community in general and bring to health care," Byrne said. "We have an obligation as a community to create an environment here where dreams can come true." ___

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