Meet Our Member: James P. McNamara

James P.
President and CEO
BioDistrict New Orleans

James P. McNamara is president and CEO of BioDistrict New Orleans.  Recognizing the need for career training for available and upcoming health IT jobs in New Orleans, HIMSS and BioDistrict New Orleans have signed a Memorandum of Understanding to advance workforce health IT initiatives anticipated to grow in the next several years in BioDistrict New Orleans. The agreement focuses on educational, career support and online initiatives before and during the 2013 Annual HIMSS Conference & Exhibition, which will be held in New Orleans on March 3-7.

At HIMSS13, BioDistrict will be part of the conference Career Services Institute, a full-day program on Tuesday, March 4.  The Career Services Institute will feature a nationally recognized career coach and will support networking opportunities for all participants. In addition, the Career Services Center at HIMSS13 provides a centralized location at the conference for recruiters, consultants and others who contribute to the development of the health IT workforce. It will be a gathering point for both job seekers and organizations looking for talent in health IT with a poster and a Q&A session, both on Tuesday, March 4.

As President and CEO of BioDistrict New Orleans, McNamara is responsible for both the programmatic and physical development of the biosciences industry sector, which includes job creation, industry recruitment and investment, workforce training and development (K-12 and the unskilled worker), small business development and nearby neighborhood development within the district boundaries. The BioDistrict, America’s newest bio hub, is a 1,500 acre area anchored by Louisiana State University, Tulane and Xavier University, is located adjacent to downtown New Orleans and is governed by a 15-member board of commissioners. It has unique combination of taxing and bonding authority as well as the ability to finance private projects and/or enter into public-private partnership to assist in creating new economic development opportunities in the healthcare\biosciences industries for New Orleans.

HIMSS: How did you become involved with HIMSS?

McNamara: I was introduced to HIMSS through the New Orleans Chamber, as a result of a HIMSS Career Services Institute community outreach in association with HIMSS13. I could not be more thrilled about the upcoming HIMSS Career Services Center collaborative that will provide New Orleans area residents with a host of career opportunities in the health IT industry. This initiative offers diverse residents life-changing career training and employment opportunities, new startups access to venture capitalist and provides business owners with the opportunity to collaborate and network for one of the nation’s fastest growing industries.

HIMSS: What has been the most rewarding aspect of your involvement with HIMSS?

McNamara: My greatest reward has been working with the staff and leadership of HIMSS, and seeing how a professionally managed organization starting with Helen Figge, senior director, career services, professional development, and JoAnn Klinedinst, vice president, professional development, all the way up to Norris Orms, EVP& COO, and Stephen Lieber, president and CEO, are dedicated to a single mission of service to their membership and the communities in which they operate. In every conversation, we discuss how our collaboration will provide new opportunities for residents, healthcare providers, the health IT industry and local governments that will make a difference in peoples’ lives by providing jobs and better healthcare outcomes. The unparalleled integration of training and certification programs, accessing venture capital, local university innovation, Louisiana’s 35 percent Digital Media Tax Credit, the Crescent City Beacon Council’s 175,000 EHR database and the 21st century infrastructure under construction will set a new healthcare industry standard. Further, the decisions we make are crucial to the role that health IT plays in that system, as well as the overhaul of the nation’s healthcare delivery system.

Our ultimate goal is to provide access to a new generation of professionals, providers and vendors based in New Orleans that are equipped with the resources necessary to deliver state-of-the art healthcare technology solutions, not only in the New Orleans area, but to other communities throughout the world for generations to come.  

HIMSS: Please describe BioDistrict New Orleans involvement in the Career Services Institute that will take place at HIMSS13

McNamara: At HIMSS13, the Career Services Institute will provide critical career training, mentorship, certification and direct vendor employment opportunities critical to BioDistrict’s plan to build the infrastructure of opportunity for the underserved population of our community. Currently, 29 percent of New Orleans residents live at or below the nation poverty level. The opportunities provided by the Career Services Institute will contribute to the improvement of the living conditions for a great number of people. We have developed a broad coalition of local community groups, including the Department of Veteran Affair’s Job Program, to help enroll those interested in the HIMSS program, as well as to provide employers with access to certified professionals.

Together, we are rolling out what we believe to be the nation’s first comprehensive program to connect local residents to a major employment center, the BioDistrict is Louisiana’s number one employment center, where a great number of new jobs will be created in the fields of healthcare IT, medical education, bioscience research and commercialization. New jobs will also be developed with the opening of two major 21st healthcare delivery facilities, the University Medical center and the Veterans Affairs Medical Complex in 2015. The BioDistrict and the Career Services Institute are focused on four key points; it is employer relevant; impactful; accessible to all; and encourages innovation.

HIMSS: What are the most notable changes you’ve seen in the field of health IT over the course of your career?

McNamara: The most notable change is not the amount of change that has taken place in the past decade, but the amount that will take place in the next five years. The average American relies on a passive system, which is primarily funded through insurance, that has become too expensive to continue at its’ current pace and is estimated to grow to $1.9 million per person.  Insurance has to cover both the patient and the provider and has unwittingly created a system that is duplicative and primed for potential error.  How many forms do patients fill out that should already be part of their personal EHR?

In the near future, we will have personalized medicine and a need for  personalized EHRs that are patient\consumer-controlled. There will also be a need to maintain a personal record of the steps taken to manage healthcare, including nutrition, exercise, and other means of medical prevention. The focus of healthcare and the financial structures will shift from curing the sick to preventing disease.

Health IT will play a pivotal role in the future of healthcare, particularly as the provider-driven models gives way to patient\consumer-centric delivery systems. Add in the growth of mHealth and the explosion of apps that will make our smart phones diagnostic tools with global connections to providers, payers, patients and researchers.

HIMSS: What advice would you give professionals just entering the healthcare or IT field? 

McNamara: I’d like to congratulate anyone who has made a career decision that has led them to enter the health\IT fields. As stated above, prepare for the changes that are inevitable as healthcare embraces technology, and information becomes more accessible to the patient\consumer and is incorporated in a way to improve healthcare delivery solutions and medical research. With the advent of health IT, there is also an ever-growing need for higher levels of strategic, analytical, and operational management skills to administer processes within increasingly complex healthcare environments.