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Workshop: Making Houston a Healthy City 

Published Dec 17, 2019 by Sophia Guevara

The Partnership’s Health Care Advisory Committee, chaired by Troy Villarreal, hosted a two-part Healthy Cities workshop, facilitated by McKinsey & Company, focused on understanding what can be done to make Houston a healthier city. While Houston is fortunate to have some of the best medical care in the world, it is not often viewed as one of the healthiest cities. Workshop participants discussed the areas of opportunity where Houston fell short of the national average and worked to identify potential advocacy pathways for public policies relating to the health of the Houston region.  

The workshop began with putting into focus a high-level perspective on Houston's path to a healthy city and identified key factors influencing the outcome of health in the Houston region. The Houston region scores well on certain health outcomes but faces headwinds against national averages on other key metrics. While Houston is home to the largest medical center in the world, there are 1,722 patients per primary care doctor in the Houston city limits, compared to a 1,330 average in the United States. Similarly, there are 920 patients per mental health provider, but the national average is 426 patients per provider.

Building off interviews with employers in the Houston region and with experts in health care and health policy, the workshop participants refined a framework of five interrelated factors influencing health outcomes in Houston and used it as a basis for assessing the health of Houston.  

The framework’s key factors included: 1) health behaviors; 2) clinical care; 3) the built environment; 4) socioeconomic factors; and 5) social connectedness. Each of these factors have key measures through which progress can be tracked and resulting potential policies and programs that could be pursued to improve health in Houston. The resulting areas of opportunity that emerged from this exercise were: 1) wellness and healthy lifestyle; 2) childhood obesity; 3) maternal health and wellness; 4) mental health; and 5) disease prevention and care. 

During the second Healthy Cities Workshop, McKinsey & Company led small group discussions concerning how the Partnership could support policy changes to enable improvement in Houston's health in each of the five areas of opportunity. To prioritize the efforts, the workshop participants discussed and debated policy solutions and potential programs that would best address the most health outcomes at once or lead to the largest impact on Houston’s health and narrowed down the focus to potential solutions relating to mental health, obesity prevention, childhood health, and maternal health. 

There are already many organizations in Houston dedicated to addressing these health issues. In an effort to understand the current landscape, and to identify opportunities to amplify existing efforts, a catalogue was created of the programs in Houston that focus on improving health outcomes. Click here to access the catalogue.

The Health Care Advisory Committee will continue this work in 2020 by considering the political feasibility and the path forward on the many policy solutions proposed to help make Houston a healthier city.  

To learn more about the Health Care Advisory Committee, click here
To learn about how to join the Policy Committees, please email

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Beyond investing in the Partnership’s mission, the active engagement of our members drives our work.  This year, 4,216 members were brought together for 75 program sessions, delivering enriching conversations, educational workshops and valuable content. Tailored to a unique audience or affinity group, BRGs are also a platform for professional, leadership and business development, empowering employees to bring added knowledge back to their companies. Below is a roundup of 2019 highlights and activities for each of our nine BRGs. Business Beyond Borders: for people doing business internationally  Members of the Business Beyond Borders BRG received global business knowledge and discussed topics including the Circular Economy, different export markets including Latin America and Europe, and various trade initiatives. Business Development: for sales and business development professionals Members who are part of our Business Development BRG met monthly to discuss various topics, including product branding, organizational growth challenges and participated in numerous Progressive Networking events.  Executive Women's Partnership: for qualified female executives EWP is Houston's premier networking group for top female executives from member companies with $100 million+ in revenue. Members receive VIP behind-the-scenes looks at our member companies and peer-to-peer networking opportunities, including this year’s annual retreat exploring the innovation happening in the transportation industry. Future of Texas: for government relations and public affairs professionals Future of Texas features elected officials shaping Texas' future, giving Partnership members the opportunity to engage with these leaders and hear their perspective on our state's most pressing issues. This year the Partnership hosted various elected officials: U.S. Representatives Kevin Brady, Dan Crenshaw, Lizzie Fletcher, Sylvia Garcia and Michael McCaul, Texas Land Commissioner George P. Bush, State Senators Brandon Creighton and Larry Taylor, and State Representative Dan Huberty.  Houston Young Professionals & Entrepreneurs: for people in their 20s and 30s This diverse, Texas-sized group of professionals and entrepreneurs meet regularly to connect with each other, build their careers and learn from Houston thought leaders. This year’s HYPE Impact Awards featured H-E-B President Scott McClelland and HYPE’s Power Hour featured various local leaders. Regions & Neighborhoods: for professionals interested in community engagement The inaugural year of the Regions and Neighborhoods BRG kicked off with a tour of NASA, followed by a discussion around community redevelopment and history in the Fifth Ward and a colorful excursion through the Arts District. Available to Partnership members located in our 11-county region, this BRG explores the districts, wards, Main Street businesses and other unique economic zones and business centers found throughout Houston. Small Biz Matters: for businesses with 50 or fewer employees globally This business resource group is designed for small businesses to make valuable connections through workshops and digital on-demand podcasts and videos. Our Small Biz Insider Series showcased local small business leaders. Talent Resources Group: for HR, D&I leaders, and Talent Attraction professionals The Talent Resources Group addresses talent attraction and retention, diversity and inclusivity awareness, enhancing your corporate culture, as well as continuing education needs for HR and legal professionals. Women's Business Alliance: for managers with 5+ years experience The Women’s Business Alliance (WBA) provides professional development resources to empower high-performing, mid-career women to advance their professional opportunities, form strategic partnerships and build a network of advocates. Our annual Rise to the Top event showcased “first females” in their fields and welcomed Dr. Ruth Simmons, President of Prairie View A&M University, as the keynote speaker.  Our Business Resource Groups are one of the main vehicles our members use to connect and continue the conversation on the issues facing businesses in our region. Become a member and get involved.
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