5 Great Cities for Medical Meetings

Thanks to strong health care economies, medical meetings in these destinations will always enjoy a clean bill of health

Mayo Clinic medical meetings Cleveland

Due to the rapid aging of America's workforce and the recent expansion of health benefits to millions under the Affordable Care Act, the health care industry is expected to grow faster and add more jobs over the next decade than any other sector in the U.S. economy. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, for instance, predicts the health care industry will add approximately 4 million new jobs by 2026, accounting for roughly a third of total job growth.

All this development spells big business for health care -- and big business demands lots of meetings and events at which to learn, network, and strategize.

To deliver the benefits the health care industry needs in order to fuel its tremendous progression, those meetings and events will require destinations that can not only meet medical meeting planners' expectations, but exceed them. Here are five that are perfectly positioned to do so. 

Rochester, MN
Next to its cold, snowy winters, Minnesota is known for one thing: health care. Minneapolis and St. Paul, for instance, are home to companies such as Medtronic and St. Jude Medical, making the Twin Cities the medical device capital of the world. If you want to find the beating heart of the state's health care economy, however, you should look approximately 90 miles south, in Rochester, MN.

The state's largest city outside of Minneapolis-St. Paul, Rochester is the birthplace of the world-renowned Mayo Clinic, which was established in 1863 and currently employs nearly 5,000 staff physicians and scientists who care for more than 1.3 million patients from all 50 states and across 137 countries every year. Consistently ranked first on U.S. News & World Report's list of the best hospitals in America, it's the centerpiece of Destination Medical Center (DMC), a 20-year, $5.6-billion economic development plan that's designed to turn Rochester into the "Silicon Valley of medicine." Because plans include not only expanded medical facilities, but also new transit, entertainment, dining, and hotel options, Rochester and the Mayo Clinic are poised to retain their seat atop the health care throne for decades to come.

Cleveland, OH
If there's one name in health care that rivals that of the Mayo Clinic, it's the Cleveland Clinic: a world-renowned academic medical center that's consistently ranked among the top four hospitals in the United States by U.S. News & World Report. Established in 1921, the hospital has more than 1,400 beds on its main campus and over 4,400 across its network, which employs 3,500 plus staff physicians and scientists who annually serve more than 7 million patients from all 50 states and 185 countries.

The Cleveland Clinic isn't Cleveland's only medical asset, however. There's also University Hospitals and the MetroHealth Medical Center -- both well-reputed hospital systems in Northeast Ohio -- as well as the Global Center for Health Innovation. Opened in 2013, the latter is located adjacent to Cleveland's Huntington Convention Center and was built specifically to host and educate the country's medical and health care community, cementing Cleveland's spot on any list of favored medical meeting destinations.

Los Angeles, CA
Los Angeles is among the top health care cities in the nation, according to the Milken Institute and Jones Lang LaSalle, both of which have given it a spot on their lists of America's most medically inclined municipalities. It's plain to see why: The City of Angels is home to Cedars-Sinai Medical Center -- one of the top five U.S. hospitals for cardiology and heart surgery, according to U.S. News & World Report -- not to mention Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center, whose 530 inpatient beds are considered the best in the West thanks to a brand-new facility that opened in 2008 on the campus of the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA). Because it claims to have "the most advanced medical technology in the world," the latter "represents the future of medical advancement and progress," Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa said when it opened.

UCLA also is home to one of two preeminent Los Angeles medical schools -- the other belongs to the University of Southern California (USC) -- that keep the local health care economy flush with talent and research dollars, which also flow from the city's largest private employer: Kaiser Permanente.

Boston, MA
Because health care is a cerebral industry, it doesn't thrive on vast deposits of natural resources or on large pools of unskilled labor. Rather, it thrives on brainpower. And nowhere is there more brainpower than Boston. In addition to three top-rated medical schools at Boston University, Tufts, and Harvard, the city is home to one of the nation's top-rated hospitals: Massachusetts General Hospital. With 11,415 employees, it is the city's largest private employer.

Thanks in large part to its world-class institutions, Boston has been the recipient of more National Institutes of Health (NIH) funding than any other U.S. city for 21 consecutive years. It's not just its schools and hospitals that make Boston an attractive destination for medical meetings, however. It's also its progressive health care laws -- Massachusetts has the lowest rate of uninsured residents in the United States and has passed health-care reform laws in every legislative session since 2006 -- and its appetite for innovation: The city boasts more than 120 health IT and digital health companies, and is widely considered to be among the best cities in the world to launch a biotech company.

Raleigh, NC
Although it isn't North Carolina's largest city -- that honor belongs to Charlotte -- Raleigh is easily its fastest growing thanks to the Research Triangle, an eight-county region that's known for its prolific life-sciences industry. Comprising Raleigh, Durham, and Chapel Hill, the Research Triangle is home to three universities -- North Carolina State University, Duke University, and the University of North Carolina (UNC) at Chapel Hill -- that support and fuel a thriving regional health care economy, not to mention three major medical systems that do the same: WakeMed Health & Hospitals, UNC Health Care, and Duke University Health System.

Plus, the area is home to a number of robust innovation clusters. The Research Triangle is a hotbed for infectious disease research, for example, and is the world's top maker of vaccines. It's also a major research and development hub, having spawned major medical advancements such as 3D ultrasound and the first FDA-approved brain stem cochlear implant. And, of course, it's a hive for pharmaceuticals, playing host to headquarters or branch offices for nearly every major brand-name pharma company there is, including GSK, Hospira, Merck, Novartis, and Pfizer.