houston innovators podcast episode 113

Health care leader says Houston's innovation ecosystem is shifting into third gear

Dr. Toby Hamilton is a leader in Houston's health care innovation ecosystem, and he joins the Houston Innovators Podcast to discuss his latest endeavor, which is rethinking primary and preventative care. Photo via tmc.edu

It's never been a better time for health care innovation in Houston. At least, that's what Dr. Toby Hamilton as observed in his time as a health care startup founder and innovation leader in Houston.

"Houston is absolutely beginning to show up on the national radar regarding health care innovation — as we should," Hamilton says on this week's episode of the Houston Innovators Podcast. "We are shifting our innovation vehicle into third gear for the first time, and I'm excited to see what fourth gear looks like, because it's around the corner.

Hamilton started his career as a physician before founding Emerus Holdings, a micro-hospital system in the Houston area which later exited to private equity. He also founded a nonprofit focused on connecting hospital innovation leaders called the Healthcare Innovators Professional Society and led the Texas Medical Center's Biodesign program for two years.

Over the years, he says he's seen the potential develop for Houston to hold a significant role in health care innovation across the world — it's just going to take all hands on deck.

"As a community, if we can get behind that vision and be the place that tests, develops, and creates opportunities, Houston has the potential to be unlike anything in the world," he says on the show.

Hamilton hopes to contribute to that momentum and his latest endeavor is tackling a huge obstacle in health care: access. He founded Hamilton Health Box in 2019 and had a full year of operations including a pilot program before the COVID-19 shutdown.

Essentially, Hamilton's vision recreates the traditional method of providing health care access to a company's employee base. The program brings an on-site care team to the company's offices so that employee patients have immediate access to treatment and preventative care.

"Hamilton Health Box that was designed to deliver the lowest possible price of primary and preventative care," Hamilton says. "We built that to be able to take that care to the jobsite and meet the customer where they are at."

In the new year, Hamilton says he hopes to expand on this model and reach groups of people without access to this type of care — like in rural communities.

He shares more on his work and Houston as a health care innovation leader on the podcast. Listen to the full interview below — or wherever you stream your podcasts — and subscribe for weekly episodes.


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Building Houston

 
 

Business and government leaders in the Houston area hope the region can become a hub for CCS activity. Photo via Getty Images

Three big businesses — Air Liquide, BASF, and Shell — have added their firepower to the effort to promote large-scale carbon capture and storage for the Houston area’s industrial ecosystem.

These companies join 11 others that in 2021 threw their support behind the initiative. Participants are evaluating how to use safe carbon capture and storage (CCS) technology at Houston-area facilities that provide energy, power generation, and advanced manufacturing for plastics, motor fuels, and packaging.

Other companies backing the CCS project are Calpine, Chevron, Dow, ExxonMobil, INEOS, Linde, LyondellBasell, Marathon Petroleum, NRG Energy, Phillips 66, and Valero.

Business and government leaders in the Houston area hope the region can become a hub for CCS activity.

“Large-scale carbon capture and storage in the Houston region will be a cornerstone for the world’s energy transition, and these companies’ efforts are crucial toward advancing CCS development to achieve broad scale commercial impact,” Charles McConnell, director of University of Houston’s Center for Carbon Management in Energy, says in a news release.

McConnell and others say CCS could help Houston and the rest of the U.S. net-zero goals while generating new jobs and protecting current jobs.

CCS involves capturing carbon dioxide from industrial activities that would otherwise be released into the atmosphere and then injecting it into deep underground geologic formations for secure and permanent storage. Carbon dioxide from industrial users in the Houston area could be stored in nearby onshore and offshore storage sites.

An analysis of U.S Department of Energy estimates shows the storage capacity along the Gulf Coast is large enough to store about 500 billion metric tons of carbon dioxide, which is equivalent to more than 130 years’ worth of industrial and power generation emissions in the United States, based on 2018 data.

“Carbon capture and storage is not a single technology, but rather a series of technologies and scientific breakthroughs that work in concert to achieve a profound outcome, one that will play a significant role in the future of energy and our planet,” says Gretchen Watkins, U.S. president of Shell. “In that spirit, it’s fitting this consortium combines CCS blueprints and ambitions to crystalize Houston’s reputation as the energy capital of the world while contributing to local and U.S. plans to help achieve net-zero emissions.”

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