Maintaining high standards, attracting talented people and carving out space for research and experimentation are just some of the ways Houston will continue to lead in biotech innovation, said a panel of local healthcare executives at the Texas Healthcare Innovation Forum on Feb. 2.
“We now have more than 150,000 square feet developed dedicated solely to innovation around healthcare,” said Texas Medical Center (TMC) President & CEO William McKeon. “That is a great asset for all the institutions here—not just in the Texas Medical Center but throughout the state of Texas.”
The one-day forum at the Marriott Marquis hosted healthcare executives from Houston and throughout the nation to tackle topics that ranged from antibiotic resistance to the opioid crisis, all while focusing on novel ways to deliver high quality care amid the changing healthcare landscape.
The final keynote panel, featuring McKeon and other TMC leaders—Peter Pisters, M.D., Chuck Stokes and Giuseppe Colasurdo, M.D.—gathered the themes of the day and discussed how to maximize innovation in Houston’s healthcare ecosystem and beyond.
McKeon kicked off the discussion with an introduction about Houston becoming the “Third Coast” for biotech innovation, rivaling Boston and San Francisco in funding, talent and dedicated infrastructure.
Pisters, president of The University of Texas at MD Anderson Cancer Center, reiterated the importance of infrastructure for keeping up with the changing healthcare climate and supporting ongoing collaboration.
“It’s important for us to think about the essential ingredients for creating an innovative ecosystem, and if you think about those components, they certainly include the human capital, the gifted and talented people that you’d find in a university or academic medical center environment, and that has to be coupled with the right kind of infrastructure environment,” Pisters said. “And to create that we need teamwork, we need collaboration.”
Much of the discussion revolved around best practices related to quality and safety. Stokes, president and CEO of Memorial Hermann Health System, cited patient safety initiatives as a key component in driving excellence.
“Innovation is not always about technology. We look at innovation in terms of quality and patient safety,” Stokes said. “We have to make sure as we’re moving forward in the future, as we see things going to more virtual care and telemedicine, that we ensure that that high-reliability culture is followed.”
Each panelist noted the importance of ongoing funding for research as well as a continued focus on cost-effective care.
“We need government support through grants, continued NIH funding—which is really critical to maintain our position as world leaders in biomedical science and innovation and discovery—and very importantly we need support for the indirect cost of research,” Pisters said.
Colasurdo, president of The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston (UTHealth), stressed the need to maintain standards of quality in the physician workforce as care extends into the home and new technologies continue to evolve through virtual reality, artificial intelligence and robotics.
Other topics covered included precision medicine, prevention strategies, improved screening approaches for early disease detection, advancements in the field of genomics, a focus on state-level policies, the aging baby boomer population, cyber risk, the forecasted physician shortage, and improvements in the handling of end-of-life care.
The panel wrapped up with a Q&A, which reiterated the major shifts anticipated in healthcare, especially in light of the recent Amazon, Berkshire Hathaway and JP Morgan announcement regarding the creation of a new company intended to “disrupt” the field by lowering costs. It’s a sign of the times, the panelists agreed, that healthcare is changing—and it will take innovative approaches to maintain focus on the highest possible quality patient care.
Other local institutions participating in the forum included leaders from The University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston (UTMB), Houston Methodist Hospital, University of Houston College of Pharmacy, Harris Health System and Baylor College of Medicine. National healthcare organizations in attendance included Health & Wellness at Walmart, Johnson & Johnson, the Cleveland Clinic, Wisconsin Collaborative for Healthcare Quality, Mayo Clinic College of Medicine and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
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