future of medicine

University of Houston teams up with health care company for value-based care program

The University of Houston in partnership with Humana is now offering a six-course, fully online program focusing on value-based care. Photo via UH.edu

Last week, the University of Houston announced a new online program that will provide specialized value-based care training for providers, academia and other business and industry professionals.

UH teamed up with Kentucky-based health insurance giant, Humana, to create the new Value-based Care Specialization program that will teach the fundamentals and real-world application of value-based care. The flexible, fully-online program is being provided via the collaborative Humana Integrated Health System Sciences Institute and through global online learning platform Coursera.

"This readily available and affordable option will support those who are working with practices and providers to create better outcomes for their patients," says Tray Cockerell, director of strategy advancement for Humana, in a news release. "It's more important than ever, with the tumult caused by COVID-19, that practices focus on prevention and care coordination.

"We learned in 2020 that providers in value-based care agreements were better positioned to withstand the financial impact the pandemic brought on the health care industry because they had established patient-centered medical practices.," he continues. "Because they could quickly pivot their resources into action to best serve patients, their income was not as drastically affected as those of their fee-for-service peers."

Recent surveys have shown that there is a varied understanding of the definition of value-based care within the health care industry, and now more than ever there is a need to retool the workforce.

"It's essential that those who work to improve the health of their communities speak the same language," says Dr. LeChauncy Woodard, general internist and founding director, Humana Integrated Health System Sciences Institute at the University of Houston, in the release. "The collaboration on this content assures that everyone, from the physician and nurse, to social workers, pharmacists and claims representatives, as well as consumers of health care understand what it takes to work together. These multisector partnerships help to ensure patients are receiving the best possible care and achieving the best outcomes at the lowest possible cost."

The program consists of six courses and a capstone project, and each course features a few learning modules and a summative assignment. Participants can take any of the six courses independently — receiving a certificate for each — or collectively for the specialization designation, per the release.

"The health care industry is rapidly changing, and high-quality, flexible learning can help support medical professionals preparing for the future," says Betty Vandenbosch, chief content officer at Coursera, in the release. "We are excited to partner with leaders such as the University of Houston and Humana to offer job-relevant content in the emerging area of value-based care."

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Building Houston

 
 

Fertitta and his family have gifted $50 million to UH's medical school. Photo courtesy

As Houston’s most high-profile billionaire and owner of the posh 5-star Post Oak Hotel and Houston Rockets, Tilman J. Fertitta has become synonymous with over-the-top opulence and big-time entertainment.

But the CEO of the massive Feritta Entertainment empire’s latest move has nothing to do with penthouses or point guards, but rather a legacy, game-changing appropriation meant to aid his home state’s health.

The longtime UH board member and former chairman and his family have just pledged $50 million to the University of Houston College of Medicine. In turn, the new medical school has been christened the Tilman J. Fertitta Family College of Medicine.

The projected school, upon completion. Rendering courtesy of University of Houston

This landmark gift aims to address the state’s critical primary care physician shortage, (especially in low-income and underserved communities), as well as attract innovation-focused scholars, UH notes.

Additionally, the grant is meant to further clinical and translational research, with an emphasis on population health, behavioral health, community engagement, and the social determinants of health, according to a press release.

Here is how the Fertitta family gift will be distributed:

  • $10 million funds five endowed chairs for faculty hires who are considered national stars in their fields with a focus on health care innovation. This portion of the gift will be matched one-to-one as part of the University’s “$100 Million Challenge” for chairs and professorships, doubling the endowed principal to $20 million.
  • $10 million establishes an endowed scholarship fund to support endowed graduate research stipends/fellowships for medical students.
  • $10 million will cover start-up costs for the Fertitta Family College of Medicine to enhance research activities including facilities, equipment, program costs and graduate research stipends/fellowships.
  • $20 million will create the Fertitta Dean’s Endowed Fund to support research-enhancing activities.

No stranger to writing big checks, Fertitta donated $20 million to UH Athletics — the largest individual donation ever — in 2016 to transform UH’s basketball arena into the now high-tech Fertitta Center.

CultureMap caught up with the CEO (who just sold his Golden Nugget gaming for $1.6 billion), best-selling author, and Billion Dollar Buyer to discuss his landmark gift.

CultureMap: Congratulations on this legacy grant, which has been a long time coming. What does this gift mean to you, now that it’s finally official?

Tilman Fertitta: This was a vision of our chancellors and, you know, I’m on my third, six-year term and not been the chairman for eight years — and we started working on this, seven, eight years ago.

To be able to be in the beginning and the nucleus, and the idea, and what we wanted, and to get the approval from Austin—to watch it come to fruition, how often does somebody get to do a naming gift at the same time they had a lot to do with the creation of the school? So, it was very special in my heart.

CM: Many know you as the CEO of a hospitality empire, author, and even TV personality. But not many know of your commitment to healthcare.


TF: I think there’s one thing in this world that we definitely should always be treated equally on, and that's that’s equal health care for all. This medical school will serve the whole community.

We’re trying to recruit students who want to be primary physicians who will take care of the community that we live in. It’s just something that was very important to me in my whole family.

CM: Academia, scholarship, and research aside, this could essentially be looked at as seed capital for a fledgling operation. Is that a fair assessment?

TF: I know where you’re going with this and yes, it’s no different than business.

I have the vision to know that being in nearly the third largest city in America and a top 100 university in the United States — as University of Houston is according to U.S. News & World Report — that I know what this is going to be in 50 years. It’s no different than looking at another business that you start and you can have the vision to see how successful it'll be in the years to come.

Being on the ground floor of the University of Houston Medical School and being a part of it from its inception, and to help the seed money that will attract other money, I know that in the years to come what a special nationwide medical school this is going to be — because it’s in one of the great cities of America.

So, to be a part of it today and still be a part of it when I’m not here 50 years from now, maybe even sooner than that [laughs], you know, it’s going to be something very special to always be attached to.

CM: Other Houston medical schools here have distinctions in pivotal research or groundbreaking procedures. Is there a specific direction you’d like UH Med to take, going forward?

TF: Honestly, you know, what I’ve been saying? There’s a significant shortage of primary care physicians, not only in the country, but in the state of Texas. We ranked number 47th in the nation.

What we need in the state of Texas, as well in Houston and everywhere, is primary care physicians to take care of your everyday people—and to see them to know if you need a specialist.

I hope that this medical school looks back and we see that they’re graduating more primary care physicians than any other university in the United States and that's our goal. We’re going to be a med school of the community.

CM: You have zero problem with issuing directives, Tilman. What’s your message to the first graduating class, the one that will initially benefit from this $50 million gold mine?

TF: Go out and take care of the people.

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This article originally ran on CultureMap.

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