Healthier Texas Summit tackles state's most pressing health challenges

Jerome M. Adams, M.D., the 20th Surgeon General of the United States, will give the opening keynote address at the second annual Healthier Texas Summit, which is being held in Austin on Thursday and Friday, Oct. 25-26.

The theme of the two-day summit, which is a collaboration between The University of Texas System and the non-profit organization IT’S TIME TEXAS, is “Uniting to Transform Health in Texas.”

The program addresses a broad range of topics from the perspective of what Texans can do to think more creatively and collaboratively to solve the state’s most pressing health challenges. Sessions address topics including opioid use and prevention, maternal mortality and morbidity, mental health at the border, the shift from fee-based to value-based billing in health care, the moral foundations of health care improvement, e-cigarettes, care for cancer survivors, telemedicine, and more.

Dr. Adams’s keynote address, “Better Health Through Better Partnerships,” will open the conference on Thursday morning. Dr. Karen DeSalvo, M.D., professor of population health at UT Austin Dell Medical School and former acting assistant secretary for health at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, will deliver her keynote address, “Public Health 3.0,” at lunch on Friday.

“Dr. Adams and Dr. DeSalvo are true public servants,” said David Lakey, M.D., vice chancellor for health and chief medical officer for the UT System. “They are also innovative thinkers and leaders, and have both been at the forefront of modernizing our nation’s health system, improving care and access for millions, and tackling some of our most urgent health challenges. It is an honor to have them keynote this year’s Summit.”

As surgeon general, Adams oversees the operations of the U.S. Public Health Service Commissioned Corps, which has approximately 6,500 uniformed health officers who serve in nearly 600 locations around the world to promote, protect and advance the health and safety of the nation and the world. He was sworn into office on Sept. 5, 2017.

While serving the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services (HHS) during the Obama Administration, DeSalvo oversaw 12 core public health offices and 10 regional health offices across the nation. DeSalvo also served as the national coordinator for health information technology from 2014 to 2016, a role in which she was responsible for setting national strategy and policy on health IT and focused interoperability in the health setting.

Other speakers and panelists include Texas Health Commissioner Dr. John Hellerstedt, Episcopal Health Foundation CEO Elena Marks, Director of the Houston Health Department Stephen Williams, Executive Director of the Texas A&M Rural Health Institute Dr. Nancy Dickey, and UT Austin Dell Medical School Professor David Ring.

"Reducing preventable chronic disease in Texas is an enormous challenge, and one that will require hard work, collaboration and innovation,” said Dr. Baker Harrell, founder and chief executive officer for IT’S TIME TEXAS. “This is why we have proudly partnered with The University of Texas System to bring together leaders from diverse sectors across Texas to forge new connections, explore the latest science, and share proven approaches to create a lasting culture of health in Texas.”

For more information and registration visit the Healthier Texas Summit website.

About The University of Texas System
For more than 130 years, The University of Texas System has been committed to improving the lives of Texans and people all over the world through education, research and health care. With 14 institutions, an enrollment of more than 235,000 students and an operating budget of $19.5 billion (FY 2019), the UT System is one of the largest public university systems in the United States. UT institutions produce nearly 59,000 graduates annually and award more than one-third of the state’s undergraduate degrees and almost two-thirds of its health professional degrees. Collectively, UT-owned and affiliated hospitals and clinics accounted for more than 7.8 million outpatient visits and 1.6 million hospital days last year. Across UT institutions, research and development expenditures total $2.7 billion – the second highest among U.S. public higher education systems – and the UT System is regularly ranked among the top 10 most innovative universities in the world. The UT System also is one of the largest employers in Texas, with more than 21,000 faculty – including Nobel laureates and members of the National Academies – and nearly 85,000 health care professionals, researchers, student advisors and support staff.

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Daniel Oppenheimer: doppenheimer@utsystem.edu • 512-852-3269