population health

University of Houston launches new health equity initiative, degree programs

The campus-wide initiative is focusing on health equity. Photo courtesy of University of Houston

The University of Houston announced its latest and largest initiative to improve health equity and outcomes in the city, state, and county this week.

About 70 percent of health outcomes can be traced back to factors outside of health care and genetics, according to the program's website. The campus-wide initiative, called UH Population Health, aims to take a deeper look into those outside factors, which can include lifestyle, environment, access to healthcare, and more.

UH will add health courses and degree programs to the university's curriculum as part of the initiative and aims to help undergraduate students align population health studies with their major.

It will also look to collaborate across industries to build digital solutions for chronic disease management, and boost its population health research. Currently individuals at the university are working on 27 research grants in the population health field totaling about $37 million in funds.

“The numbers add up to one inexorable fact: Health is a social, not just medical matter,” Bettina Beech, chief population health officer at UH and a clinical professor of population health in the Department of Health Systems and Population Health Sciences at the UH College of Medicine, says in a statement. “UH Population Health is a better approach to better health. We will work together to build healthier communities and a stronger society by focusing on health equity.”

UH has been a leader in health equity programs over the last few years.

Last summer the University of Houston College of Medicine opened a low-cost health care facility on the campus of Memorial Hermann Southwest Hospital. Funded by a $1 million gift from The Cullen Trust for Health Care, the facility offers direct primary care to the uninsured, where patients pay a monthly membership.

Additionally, the university paired up with Humana to launch a value-based care program in the spring. And it's even launched research on how to use AI to improve its health equity research and vice versa.

Bettina Beech is the chief population health officer at UH. Photo via UH.edu

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Building Houston


After working with thousands of interns, Allie Danziger of Ampersand Professionals says she's now got a product to upskill and train new hires for employers. Photo courtesy of Ampersand

After seeing success with her internship training and matchmaking platform, Allie Danziger, founder and CEO of Ampersand Professionals, has expanded the concept to include a new hire training service that allows employers to better optimize the onboarding process and have a well-trained new staff member from day one.

In just over a year, Ampersand has worked with over 7,000 professionals through its original concept of upskilling and matching young professionals to internship programs. A few months ago, Danziger and her team expanded to include career development training for students first entering the workforce with the City of Houston's Hire Houston Youth program. Danziger says it was developing out the platform for this program that proved there was a need for this type of training.

"While we have focused on matching professionals with businesses for paid internships, we recognized a further gap with employers that have their own recruiting/talent acquisition teams, or just their own preferred way of bringing on entry-level talent, and didn’t have a need for our matching platform," Danziger tells InnovationMap. "But, they recognized the benefit of our proven training platform that pre-vets and de-risks their hires, and still wanted access to the training for their own hires."

The new program has evolved from training interns to new hires, so parts of the program that focuses on interviewing or applying for a job have been removed. Instead, the 8.5 hours of training focuses on networking, best practices for working with a manager and team, performance reviews, common software training, and more.

Danziger says usually new hires need the most experienced mentor or manager, but they don't usually get that support — especially when it comes to businesses that don't have their own built-out mentorship or training program.

"Ampersand’s new training product fills that gap — it gives employers of any size any easy solution to provide basic job readiness training to employees, access to our team of dedicated coaches, and a detailed report at the end of their training summarizing how their new hire did in the training and any trends recognized and tips for managing this employee based on what the platform uncovered," she says. "Businesses can also sign up for additional coaching sessions and customize training materials, as an add-on if interested."

The program costs the employer $100 per new employee, and checkout online takes less than a minute. Through both this program and the original internship program, Ampersand is constantly evolving its training content.

"These professionals are going through the same training experience that we have proven out over the last year, and we are constantly adding to based on data we see in the user experience," Danziger says.

Danziger recently joined the Houston Innovators Podcast discuss some of the benchmarks she's met with Ampersand, as well as the importance of investing in Gen Z hires. Listen to that episode below.

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