February 26, 2016
On Wednesday Dr. Tom Murphy, assistant dean for Community Affairs and Health Policy, and I went on my first “clinic road trip,” visiting several of McGovern Medical School’s community-based clinics. The 14 clinics, ranging in size from three to more than 20 primary and specialty care providers, are located in a broad geographic area—including Katy, Clear Lake, Bellaire, Missouri City, The Heights, Greenspoint, Bellaire, Richmond-Rosenberg, and soon-to-be Beaumont. The development of each of these clinics is the result of planning that began in 2008 to expand our clinical practice beyond the Texas Medical Center. In 2015, these UT Physicians locations recorded about 140,000 patient visits.
Collectively, the clinics allow for a coordinated, clinically integrated approach to patient care with primary care working with specialty care to provide the optimal experience and clinical outcome for the patient and caregiver. Each site is part of the joint Memorial Hermann/UT Accountable Care Organization (ACO). As part of the federal Affordable Care Act, the ACO is a network of doctors and hospitals that share financial and medical responsibility for providing coordinated care to patients, while working to limit unnecessary spending. To date, this ACO has been quite successful, fulfilling some of the early goals of the population health model, i.e. providing patient care that is safe, effective, patient-centered, timely, and equitable, while lowering the cost per capita of health care. As medical care continues to migrate from hospital centered to outpatient centered, having a presence in multiple communities is an important pathway to providing optimal medical care. When highly specialized care is needed, the patients remain in the UT Physicians system, avoiding fragmentation of care. Additionally, the clinics are primary care teaching locations for our medical students and several provide opportunities for teaching residents in various specialties.
This week I also traveled to the TMC Innovation Institute for a meeting with director Dr. Erik Halvorsen and a tour. The TMC Innovation Institute offers co-working space, an incubator, and an accelerator program. They provide expertise in intellectual property, business modeling, and FDA regulation to support early-stage life science companies. I was very excited by the possibilities for collaborations here and look forward to going back to hear presentations by research teams and young start-up companies that are working and learning in this unique setting.
On Saturday I was one of about 250 attendees at the 21st annual Neuroscience Research Center Public Forum. Moderator Dr. Sean Savitz, professor of neurology, and panelists Dr. Qi Lin Cao, associate professor of neurosurgery; Dr. Charles Cox, professor of pediatric surgery; Dr. Erin Furr-Stimming, associate professor of neurology; and Dr. Jair Soares, professor and chair of the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, presented exciting developments in stem cell therapy for neurological diseases.
I am pleased to report that faculty at McGovern Medical School, the UTHealth School of Public Health, and Rice University are working on proposals to submit to the National Institutes of Health on environmental influences on child health outcomes. This is a new large NIH undertaking and is another opportunity for multi-school collaboration.
We continue to build a closer partnership with Rice University. On Tuesday, a group of faculty from the medical school (Drs. Tony Johnson (OBGYN and Fetal Center), Jerri Refuerzo (OBGYN/MFM), Pramod Dash (Neurobiology), Eric Eichenwald (Pediatrics), Charles Cox and Kevin Lally (Pediatric Surgery)) met with Dr. Rebecca Richards-Kortum, director of the Rice Institute of Biosciences and Bioengineering, and Dr. Gang Bao, Foyt Family Professor of Bioengineering at Rice. The group is in the early stages of working together to build a joint center for maternal and child health bioengineering.
Wednesday evening supporters and friends of UTHealth gathered at the home of Carolyn Frost Keenan and Charlie Gaines for another UTHealth House Calls event. Our own Dr. Lance Gould, professor of internal medicine, and Dr. David McPherson, chair of the Department of Internal Medicine, presented on The Miraculous Heart. Drs. Gould and McPherson gave wonderful talks about their work to decrease the risk of heart disease and to improve therapies. The audience was incredibly engaged with a lively question and answer period. These are interesting and informative evenings and a terrific way to showcase our expertise to the community.
Yesterday, I was a student of development. Advancement Resources provided great training for deans and members of the administration as we prepare for our proposed comprehensive campaign. The session was terrific. It emphasized that as faculty and staff working at UTHealth, we are all engaged in development every day — as we go about our work helping to make this a stronger and stronger school — dedicated to providing a wonderful education for our learners, a supportive place to be a scientist and do science, an outstanding place to seek healthcare, and a great place to work! As we engage with the people around us — other faculty and staff, students, patients, and families we serve — we are building the relationships and ties that lead to philanthropy. THANKS for all that each of you do.