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September 26, 2012
Valdosta State University President, Dr. William McKinney and President of Wiregrass Georgia Technical College, Dr. Ray Perren spoke at the Collaboration for Future Innovation forum. The forum was moderated by Myrna Ballard, President of the Valdosta-Lowndes County Chamber of Commerce.
Azalea Health Innovations (AHI) hosted the first “Collaboration for Future Innovation” forum; held on September 21, 2012 at Steel Magnolia’s Restaurant in downtown Valdosta, GA. The private event was held to discuss ways the two educational institutions, Valdosta State University (VSU) and Wiregrass Georgia Technical College (WGT), could collaborate with businesses like AHI to create opportunities for advancement throughout the Valdosta-Lowndes County area. Swords, CFO of AHI explains, “The forum is a great way to open the discussion on how Technical Colleges and Universities can work together with local businesses to enhance workforce development and strengthen community economic growth.”
AHI invited VSU President, Dr. William McKinney and President of WGT , Dr. Ray Perren to participate in the discussion. The decision to hold the forum came after AHI’s co-founders Dan Henry, Doug Swords, and Baha Zeidan met with Dr. McKinney during a tour of AHI headquarters. AHI felt that Dr. Ray Perren would also be an excellent choice for a participant due to WGT’s dedication to workforce development. Additionally, both educational institution leaders were chosen because over 70% of AHI’s Valdosta staff attended either facility. “Our company strives to create opportunities for current students and graduates of these two schools, and (AHI) will continue to keep in line with that tradition”, says Zeidan, CEO of AHI.
Valdosta-Lowndes County Chamber of Commerce President, Myrna Ballard was asked to serve as moderator for the forum. Ballard serves as a cornerstone of the Valdosta-Lowndes County area by continuing to connect community leaders with professionals to promote successful business relationships.
The forum focused on ways to educate Valdosta and the surrounding area’s future workforce in the field of Healthcare Information Technology (HIT) and other technology based industries. Henry, CIO of AHI spoke on the increased importance of HIT, “It is only going to grow as adoption of electronic health records becomes nationally mandated over the next few years. Having a talented, well trained workforce is crucial to the success of these programs.” Both educational facilities spoke on new programs they plan to integrate into the courses that are offered at each location. Dr. Perren discussed how a number of new programs are decided upon; “It is important for our facility to meet with regional business partners on a regular basis to determine what services are needed and to ensure that (WGT) can supply a workforce that specializes in those services.” Other topics for the discussion included: health finance and health management, the processes for creating new programs in the University System of Georgia, strengthening existing programs, the importance of scholarships to encourage student participation, as well as ways for local businesses, like AHI to offer assistance to VSU and WGT.
All participants agreed the forum should be the first of a series of discussions between both educational institutions as well as other influential local businesses in order to spark future community technological advancement. “We have reached an era of higher education where continuing to operate as single entities is no longer beneficial.” says Dr. McKinney of the importance of community collaboration. AHI looks forward to hosting an annual forum for all parties for years to come.
About Azalea Health Innovations, Inc.
Azalea Health Innovations, Inc. is a leading provider in cloud-based electronic health records software (EHR), practice management software (PM), and revenue cycle management services (RCM). Azalea products provide continuity that unifies both the medical and financial aspects of today’s healthcare provider. For more information on Azalea Health Innovations visit www.AzaleaHealth.com or call (877) 777-7686.
About Valdosta State University
The mission of Valdosta State University (VSU) is to: prepare our students to meet global opportunities and challenges through excellence in teaching and learning, expand the boundaries of current knowledge, and explore the practical applications of that knowledge, through excellence in scholarship and creative endeavors, and to promote the economic, cultural, and educational progress of our community and of our region, through excellence in service outreach. For more information visit www.valdosta.edu.
About Wiregrass Technical College.
The mission of Wiregrass Georgia Technical College, a public two-year technical college and a unit of the Technical College System of Georgia, is to promote community, educational, and economic development by providing a highly trained workforce for South Central Georgia. For more information visit www.wiregrass.edu.
About Valdosta Lowndes County Chamber of Commerce
The mission of the Valdosta-Lowndes County Chamber of Commerce is to serve as the unifying force and focal point for enhancing the economic, social and cultural well-being of the regional community it serves. For more information visit www.valdostachamber.com.