U.S. News & World Report has released its annual and much-heralded list of Best Hospitals in the nation. Photo courtesy

A prestigious, annual national report has verified what Houstonians already know: Our Medical Center boasts the best adult and children’s hospital in Texas and the best cancer center in America.

U.S. News & World Report released its 2022-23 Best Hospitals list, which names The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center No. 1 in the nation for cancer care. For those keeping track, MD Anderson has been considered in the top two cancer hospitals in the U.S. since the U.S. News launched the survey in 1990.

While securing the top rank for cancer care, MD Anderson also scored high national ranks for specialty treatments: urology (No. 5) and diabetes and endocrinology (No. 13). The center continues to maintain its “High Performing” rating on the U.S. News list for colon cancer and lung cancer. It also received “High Performing” ratings for the three newly added adult procedures and conditions: ovarian cancer, prostate cancer, and uterine cancer, per a press release.

“We are proud to be ranked as the nation’s leader in cancer care,” said Peter WT Pisters, M.D., president of MD Anderson, in a statement. “This ongoing recognition is thanks to the incredible MD Anderson community, including our faculty, employees, trainees, students, donors and advocates, who advance our science and our mission and who serve our patients by enabling us to provide the best care possible.”

Rankings for the annual U.S. News study are based on scores in patient care, patient safety, outcomes, nursing, advanced technology, and reputation.

Houston leads medicine in Texas
The tagline for Houston Methodist Hospital systems — “leading medicine” — is quite fitting here in Texas. The hospital comes in at No. 15 nationally (marking the sixth time it has been recognized in the report’s Honor Roll) and No. 1 in Texas for the 11th year in a row. Locally, Houston Methodist Sugar Land ranks No. 5 in Houston and No. in Texas, a press release notes.

Notably, U.S. News has ranked Houston Methodist Hospital in at least one specialty for the past 30 years. This year, Houston Methodist Hospital ranks in 10 specialties, the most of any hospital in the state, according to the report. Two of these ranked specialties appear in the list’s top 10 (diabetes and endocrinology at No. 9; gastroenterology/GI surgery at No. 8), while six are ranked in the top 20.

“This is a tremendous achievement for our physicians and employees who dedicate themselves every day to our patients – especially as we continue to provide the highest quality care during these trying times in health care,” said Marc Boom, M.D., president and CEO of Houston Methodist, in a statement. “Our mission to provide unparalleled care is for our patients, who are the reason we need to be one of the best hospital systems in the country.”

Texas Children’s tops Texas and Southwest
Yet another Houston hospital scored extremely well nationally in the list. Texas Children’s Hospital ranks No. 2 overall in the Best Children’s Hospitals ranking. The beloved children’s center also remains top in Texas and the Southwest, and at No. 1 in heart treatment for the sixth year in a row. No other pediatric hospital in Texas has achieved an overall ranking as high as Texas Children’s has in the past 14 years, a Texas Children’s release notes.

“We are beyond thrilled with the newest U.S. News & World Report rankings that place Texas Children’s Hospital second in the United States and first in the state of Texas,” said Mark A. Wallace, president and CEO, in a statement. “Consistent collaboration, newfound discoveries and extraordinary patient care is what has brought us to where we are today. I am incredibly proud of this remarkable team and everything we’ve accomplished together — and our promise to every family is that we are just getting started.”

Texas’ best mental health care is here
Also boasting top honors in the state — and No. 10 nationally — is the Menninger Clinic. The acclaimed facility tied for tenth place on U.S. News’ list of best psychiatric hospitals, making it the all-out best in Texas.

Of note, Menninger has been named a top-10 psychiatry hospital in the U.S. for 32 consecutive years, the hospital points out. “With the growing need for mental health care, we are grateful for the trust that psychiatrists have had in referring their clients to The Menninger Clinic for comprehensive diagnosis and treatment,” said president and CEO Armando E. Colombo in a statement.

Elsewhere in Texas
Dallas-Fort Worth is home to the No. 2 hospital in Texas, per U.S. News. UT Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas also ranked especially well nationally in urology (No. 11), cardiology and heart surgery (No. 14), diabetes and endocrinology (No. 18), pulmonology and lung surgery, (No. 21), and cancer (No. 25).

Not far down the list is Baylor University Medical Center in Dallas, which ranked No. 4 in Texas. One Baylor department ranked nationally: gastroenterology and GI surgery department, No. 34.

Meanwhile, Austin’s St. David’s Medical Center ranked No. 8 in Texas. Austinites in need of post-procedure work and physical therapy should note that the hospital’s rehabilitation department ranked nationally, coming in at No. 37 overall.

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This article originally ran on CultureMap.

Through a $4 million grant, the city of Houston will be able to provide mental health treatment to at-risk students. Educational First Steps/Facebook

City of Houston and local health care organizations receive $4M to treat mental health in students

Help granted

The city of Houston just received a major opportunity to help grow access to mental health treatment in children.

Thanks to a four-year $4 million grant from the United States Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, the city and its partner, Baylor College of Medicine, are launching the Be-Well Be-Connected program that provides at-risk students age six to 17 years old with mental health treatment.

The program will be led by Dr. Laurel Williams, associate professor of psychiatry at Baylor, division head for child and adolescent psychiatry and chief of psychiatry at Texas Children's Hospital. The treatment will include cognitive behavioral intervention for students with bipolar disorder and first episode psychosis, according to the release. The services will be provided in the child's home, which will ensure compliance.

"We do not have many places in Houston that have this capability to provide this level of intensity of services," Williams says in the release. "Having in-home therapy can allow the young person to stay engaged in their community and in their schools, which can promote wellness and reduction in symptoms burden more quickly."

Other Houston health centers, including Texas Children's Hospital, Harris Health System, Menninger Clinic, Harris Center, Veteran's Mental Health Care Line, Legacy Community Health Services, and DePelchin's Children's Center, will be involved with the program and the Mayor's Office of Education is the program manager of the grant.

"I created the Office of Education to support school districts in Houston because they are doing the essential work of guaranteeing that our next generation of adults is educated and ready for the future," says Mayor Sylvester Turner in the release. "The grant validates our efforts and more importantly will provide care on the frontlines of a key health issue involving young people."

Five independent school districts will also receive first level screening services and telemedical care. Families of the students receiving care will also receive support from the newly developed Texas State Child Mental Health Consortium.

"Houston and our surrounding area is primed to really take children's mental health care to the next needed level," says Williams in the release. "This SAMHSA grant opportunity coupled with the State Consortium will allow better coordination amongst services and an overall increase in available services — services that are desperately needed."

Houston Methodist Hospital once again lands on U.S. News & World Report's "Honor Roll." Courtesy of Methodist Hospital/Facebook

2 Houston hospitals honored among America's best in prestigious report

What the Doctor Ordered

Houston's Medical Center is often described as the epicenter of innovation and treatment in the U.S. — as well as the site of Nobel Prize-winning work. Now, a new report offers more bragging rights for the beloved center, as two of its hospitals have landed on a coveted list of the best facilities in the nation.

U.S. News & World Report has released its 2019-2020 list of best hospitals, citing Houston Methodist Hospital and The Menninger Clinic among the top in America.

The publication named Houston Methodist Hospital to its Honor Roll, a list of the top 20 hospitals in the country. Methodist tied for No. 20 with Yale New Haven Hospital in Connecticut, Mayo Clinic-Phoenix, and Hospitals of the University of Pennsylvania-Penn Presbyterian in Philadelphia.

To determine the Honor Roll, U.S. News ranks hospital performance in 16 areas of complex specialty care and rates hospitals in nine bellwether procedures and conditions, such as heart bypass, hip and knee replacement, heart failure, and lung cancer surgery, the publication notes.

This is the third time Methodist has secured the Honor Roll and the eighth year in a row it has been named the No. 1 hospital in Texas. Methodist also ranked No. 1 in the Gulf Coast region and was awarded national rankings in nine adult specialties and recognized as "high performing" for nine adult procedures and conditions.

Meanwhile, in the nationwide survey, The Menninger Clinic ranked No. 5 overall among Best Hospitals for Psychiatry. The institution, which offers treatment services for psychiatric disorders and substance abuse issues, has been ranked by U.S. News for 30 consecutive years, according to a release.

The report distinguishes the best hospitals for patients experiencing difficult-to-treat psychiatric disorders and is based on survey responses from 2017 to 2019 from physicians nationwide who are board certified in psychiatry, according to the publication.

During the three-year survey period, Menninger treated patients from all 50 states and 18 countries through five specialty inpatient programs, says a release. The hospital assists patients ranging from adolescents to adult professionals and hosts a popular annual luncheon featuring a celebrity keynote speaker who has dealt with mental wellness issues.

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This story originally appeared on CultureMap.com.

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Houston hospital joins the metaverse with new platform

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Houston Methodist has launched a platform that is taking medical and scientific experts and students into the metaverse.

The MITIEverse, a new app focused on health care education and training, provides hands-on practice, remote assistance from experienced clinicians, and more. The app — named for the Houston Methodist Institute for Technology, Innovation and Education, aka MITIE — was created in partnership with FundamentalVR and takes users into virtual showcase rooms, surgical simulations, and lectures from Houston Methodist faculty, as well as collaborators from across the world.

“This new app brings the hands-on education and training MITIE is known for to a new virtual audience. It could be a first step toward building out a medical metaverse,” says Stuart Corr, inventor of the MITIEverse and director of innovation systems engineering at Houston Methodist, in a news release.

Image courtesy of Houston Methodist

The hospital system's DeBakey Heart and Vascular Center has created a virtual showcase room on the app, and users can view Houston Methodist faculty performing real surgeries and then interact with 3D human models.

"We view the MITIEverse as a paradigm-shifting platform that will offer new experiences in how we educate, train, and interact with the health community,” says Alan Lumsden, M.D., medical director of Houston Methodist DeBakey Heart and Vascular Center, in the release.

“It essentially democratizes access to health care educators and innovators by breaking down physical barriers. There’s no need to travel thousands of miles to attend a conference when you can patch into the MITIEverse," he continues.

Image courtesy of Houston Methodist

Houston doctors get approval for low-cost COVID vaccine abroad

green light

A Houston-born COVID-19 vaccine has gotten the go-ahead to be produced and distributed in Indonesia.

PT Bio Farma, which oversees government-owned pharmaceutical manufacturers in Indonesia, says it’s prepared to make 20 million doses of the IndoVac COVID-19 vaccine this year and 100 million doses a year by 2024. This comes after the vaccine received authorization from the Indonesian Food and Drug Authority for emergency use in adults.

With more than 275 million residents, Indonesia is the world’s fourth most populous country.

IndoVac was created by the Texas Children’s Hospital Center for Vaccine Development and Baylor College of Medicine. Drs. Peter Hotez and Maria Elena Bottazzi lead the vaccine project. Bio Farma is licensing IndoVac from BCM Ventures, the commercial group at the Baylor College of Medicine.

“Access to vaccines in the developing world is critical to the eradication of this virus,” Hotez, co-director of the Texas Children’s Hospital Center for Vaccine Development and dean of the National School of Tropical Medicine at Baylor College of Medicine, says in a news release.

Aside from distributing the vaccine in Indonesia, Bio Farma plans to introduce it to various international markets.

“The need for a safe, effective, low-cost vaccine for middle- to low-income countries is central to the world’s fight against the COVID-19 pandemic,” says Bottazzi, co-director of the Texas Children’s Hospital Center for Vaccine Development and associate dean of the National School of Tropical Medicine at Baylor.

“Without widespread inoculation of populations in the developing world, which must include safe, effective booster doses, additional [COVID-19] variants will develop, hindering the progress achieved by currently available vaccines in the United States and other Western countries.”

Bio Farma says it has completed Phase 1 and Phase 2 clinical trials for IndoVac and is wrapping up a Phase 3 trial.

IndoVac is a version of the patent-free, low-cost Corbevax vaccine, developed in Houston and dubbed “The World’s COVID-19 Vaccine.” The vaccine formula can be licensed by a vaccine producer in any low- or middle-income country, which then can take ownership of it, produce it, name it, and work with government officials to distribute it, Hotez told The Texas Tribune in February.

Among donors that have pitched in money for development of the vaccine are the Houston-based MD Anderson and John S. Dunn foundations, the San Antonio-based Kleberg Foundation, and Austin-based Tito’s Vodka.

“During 2022, we hope to partner with the World Health Organization and other United Nations agencies to vaccinate the world. We believe that global vaccine equity is finally at hand and that it is the only thing that can bring the COVID pandemic to an end,” Hotez and Bottazzi wrote in a December 2021 article for Scientific American.

Houston research: How best to deliver unexpected news as a company

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According to Forbes, the volume of mergers and acquisitions in 2021 was the highest on record, and 2022 has already seen a number of major consolidation attempts. Microsoft’s acquisition of video game company Activision Blizzard was the biggest gaming industry deal in history, according to Reuters. JetBlue recently won the bid over Frontier Airlines to merge with Spirit Airlines. And, perhaps most notably, Elon Musk recently backed out of an attempt to acquire Twitter.

It can be hard to predict how markets will react to such high-profile deals (and, in Elon Musk and Twitter’s case, whether or not the deal will even pan out). But Rice Business Professor Haiyang Li and Professor Emeritus Robert Hoskisson, along with Jing Jin of the University of International Business and Economics in Beijing, have found that companies can take advantage of these deals to buffer the effects of other news.

The researchers looked at 7,575 mergers and acquisitions from 2001 to 2015, with a roughly half-and-half split between positive and negative stock market reactions. They found that when there’s a negative reaction to a deal, companies have two strategies for dealing with it. If it’s a small negative reaction, companies will release positive news announcements in an attempt to soften the blow. But when the reaction is really bad, companies actually tend to announce more negative news afterward. Specifically, companies released 18% less positive news and 52% more negative news after a bad market reaction.

This may seem counterintuitive, but there’s a method to the madness, and it all has to do with managing expectations. If people are lukewarm on a company due to a merger or acquisition, it’s possible to sway public opinion with unrelated good news. When the backlash is severe, though, a little bit of good PR won’t be enough to change people’s minds. In this case, companies release more bad news because it’s one of their best chances to do so without making waves in the future. If people already think poorly of a company due to a recent deal, more bad news isn’t great, but it doesn’t come as a surprise, either. Therefore, it’s easier to ignore.

It might make more sense to just keep quiet if the market reaction to a deal is bad, and this study found that most companies do. However, this only applies when releasing more news would make a mildly bad situation worse. If things are already bad enough that the company can’t recover with good news, it can still make the best out of a bad situation by offloading more bad news when the damage will be minimal. Companies are legally obligated to disclose business-related news or information with shareholders and with the public. If it’s bad news, they like to share it when the public is already upset about a deal, instead of releasing the negative news when there are no other distractions. In this case the additional negative news is likely to get more play in the media when disclosed by itself.

But what happens when people get excited about a merger or acquisition? In these cases, it also depends on how strong the sentiment is. If the public’s reaction is only minimally positive, companies may opt to release more good news in hopes of making the reaction stronger. When the market is already enthusiastic about the deal, though, companies won’t release more positive news. The researchers found that after an especially positive market reaction to a deal, companies indeed released 12% less positive news but 56% more negative news. Also, one could argue that the contrasting negative news makes the good news on the acquisition look even better. This may be important especially if the acquisition is a significant strategic move.

There are several reasons why a company wouldn’t continue to release positive news after a good press day and strong market reaction. First of all, they want to make sure that a rise in market price is attributed to the deal alone, and not any irrelevant news. A positive reaction to a deal also gives companies another opportunity to disclose bad news at a time when it will get less attention. If the bad news does get attention, the chances are better that stakeholders will go easy on them — a little bit of bad press is forgivable when the good news outshines it.

Companies may choose to release no news after a positive reaction to a merger or acquisition, the same way they might opt to stay quiet after backlash. They’re less likely to release positive news when stakeholders are already happy, preferring to save that news for the next time they need it, either to offset a negative reaction or strengthen a weak positive reaction.

Mergers and acquisitions can produce unpredictable market reactions, so it’s important for companies to be prepared for a variety of outcomes. In fact, Jin, Li and Hoskisson found that the steps taken by companies before deals were announced didn’t have much effect on the public’s reaction. They found that it’s more important for companies to make the best out of that reaction, whatever it turns out to be.

The researchers also found that, regardless of whether the market reaction was positive or negative, as long as the reaction was strong, companies could use the opportunity to hide smaller pieces of bad news in the shadow of a headline-making deal. Overall, the magnitude of the reaction mattered more than the type of reaction. People tend to have stronger reactions to unexpected news, though, so companies prefer to release negative news when market expectations are already low.

These findings are relevant beyond merger announcements, of course; they also point to strategies that could be useful in everyday communications. A key takeaway is that negative information is less upsetting when people already expect bad things — or when it comes after much bigger, and much better, news. Bad news is always hard to deliver, but this research gives us a few ways to soften the blow.

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This article originally ran on Rice Business Wisdom and was based on research from Jing Jin, Haiyang Li and Robert Hoskisson.