People

A Conversation Between CEOs, Deans and Health Policy Grant Winners


By Shanley Pierce | February 17, 2016

The Texas Medical Center’s Health Policy Institute hosted Monday evening its inaugural conversation between TMC chief executive officers, deans and the recent health policy grant winners.

Approximately 120 medical professionals, students and C-level executives interested in health policy attended the sold-out event to learn about the four projects that were selected to be a part of the HPI’s $750,000 Grant Program in Collaborative Health Policy Research.

“I thought today’s event was extremely exciting because what we had the opportunity to do was tell the general community out in Houston what we’re trying to work [on] — in my case, about freestanding emergency departments,” said principal investigator Vivian Ho, Ph.D., director of the Center for Health and Biosciences at Rice University’s Baker Institute for Public Policy. “But also in all sorts of other areas so that the community actually understands what we’re trying to do in terms of improving the health of people in Houston and, really, throughout the nation and the world, as well.”

Ho teamed up with experts from The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston’s School of Public Health, Baylor College of Medicine and the Michael E. DeBakey Veterans Affairs Medical Center to identify the motivation and track the implications of freestanding emergency departments across Texas.

This grant presentation was designed to discuss the four teams’ work during the initial stages of research as a way for the four panelists — which consisted of Robert Robbins, M.D., TMC president and CEO; Ronald A. DePinho, M.D., president of The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center; Paul Klotman, M.D., president, CEO and executive dean of Baylor College of Medicine; and Eric Boerwinkle, Ph.D., dean of the UT School of Public Health — to provide their insight and feedback and help investigators more clearly define their research approaches.

“It was such a privilege to be able to listen to the feedback from some of the top medical leaders in the world,” she said, explaining how she will incorporate the panel’s comments and suggestions — such as the impact of freestanding emergency departments on Medicaid patients who are being left out of important emergency care — into her team’s research as they move forward.

“It was also very interesting to hear the opinions of the CEOs in terms of the other projects — everything related to mobile clinics to how do we lower readmission rates in the Texas Medical Center, one of the largest admitters of hospital patients, and then what are we going to do about undocumented immigrants and the health problems that are created from the terrible situations they’re in. It was very important to hear people who are dealing with these issues at a macro level and really understand the big picture,” she added. “I found that [to be] a tremendous opportunity.”

Robert Phillips, M.D., Ph.D, executive vice president and chief medical officer of Houston Methodist Hospital, who is studying preventable readmission within the TMC, joined fellow principal investigators Kenneth Smith, director of the Center to Eliminate Health Disparities at UTMB, and Rigoberto Delgado, Ph.D., assistant professor of management, policy and community health at UT-SPH, in presenting their respective projects to the panelists.

“It’s wonderful to [present] in front of such an august group of panelists here, CEOs of many of our major institutions at the TMC,” Phillips said. “They asked really insightful questions and really made us all think about ways that we can make our projects better, hone them more and have better outcomes.”

Moderator Arthur Garson Jr., M.D., M.P.H., director of the HPI, said he is “delighted” by the inaugural event’s turnout and plans to expand the grant to include more recipients.

“We did get 21 final submissions and were only able to do four,” Garson said. “As Bobby Robbins pointed out, at the very end, there may be some amazing grants that still were very worthy of getting funded. I think what we’re going to do next year is see if we can’t fund it a little bit higher.”

Ultimately, the grant was designed to capture the spirit of collaboration among TMC member institutions and continue to cultivate multi-institutional and cross-disciplinary partnerships to improve the health care of citizens within Texas and across the nation.

“I really want to thank the TMC, Tim Garson and Dr. Robbins, who have been wonderful leaders in this effort to not only help make the TMC the largest medical center in the world, but also find ways for us to work together to make us the best medical center in the world,” Phillips said.




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