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Expert Panels Give Houston Healthcare A Clean Bill Of Health

While other sectors of Houston real estate may be flatlining, Houston’s healthcare sector remains healthy. Industry experts gathered at Bisnow’s 6th Annual Healthcare Real Estate event yesterday for networking and a panel discussion about the strength of Houston’s world-class healthcare sector.

Expert Panels Give Houston Healthcare A Clean Bill Of Health

You can't talk healthcare without discussing the Affordable Care Act reforms. Transwestern national director of healthcare advisory Eric Johnson (left, with Texas Medical Center SVP Shawn Cloonan) says Houston, like much of the US, is still reacting to the changes implemented by the ACA. Things were slow to adjust after it was passed in 2010, but in the past couple of years, things have really taken off. According to Eric, 2015 was his best year ever.

Expert Panels Give Houston Healthcare A Clean Bill Of Health

One big trend: stretching through the suburbs. MD Anderson's VP of facilities, Spencer Moore (center), says the system continues to reach out to Houston’s regional communities by offering satellite facilities. Spencer pointed to MD Anderson's development of a 200k SF facility in West Houston, its new building in League City and a new site in Sugar Land. Strong growth outside the TMC is vital to Houston’s strength, Spencer says. 

But the Texas Medical Center is still the core of a new driver, life sciences. A major source of confidence for the Houston healthcare sector is the $2B development of TMC3, a life sciences campus to develop research that would act as an anchor for the future of the industry. Shawn says the Houston medical system, when coupled with its research, has the second-highest compilation of NIH funds in one place, but Shawn admits TMC needs to work towards commercialization and translation of its research. He hopes the entrepreneurial collaboration at TMC3 will help.

Expert Panels Give Houston Healthcare A Clean Bill Of Health

The crowd of over 350 was eager to ask questions about Houston's emerging life sciences collaboration. It's being fueled by Johnson & Johnson's J-Labs, a new life sciences/biotech incubator. The 34k SF Houston facility will be the fifth J-Labs, opening with 22 companies, more than any other. With lab space at a premium in the city, Shawn hopes the incubator's affordable benches will help spark innovation and collaboration in the TMC. Shawn thinks the lab's proximity to the TMC and its wealth of human intellectual capital will help commercialization.

Expert Panels Give Houston Healthcare A Clean Bill Of Health

Neighbors Health System COO Chris McVeigh (left, with moderator DPR Construction project exec Jennifer Oliverio) opened up the second panel with more evidence of Houston’s regional growth. Over 50% of his business in the Texas Triangle has been in Houston. With so much expansion, there's been no lack of options of where to build. The important decision is what to build. Micro-hospitals are now becoming popular, especially in outlying areas. 

Expert Panels Give Houston Healthcare A Clean Bill Of Health

Trammell Crow is also working on micro-hospital projects, with plans to provide more, principal Davis Griffin (speaking, right) says. The smaller operations are great for establishing a presence, planting a flag. They also function as a critical component to ACA reforms, keeping low acuity patients out of mothership hospitals and lowering wait times. Davis also acknowledged growth in the suburbs; two TCC buildings just finished and the new MOB in Sugar Land is filling up very quickly. 

Expert Panels Give Houston Healthcare A Clean Bill Of Health

Transwestern VP of healthcare advisory services Brandy Bellow Spinks, seen here with Memorial Hermann VP James Bretting, was also excited to announce new MOB space. She mentioned that older facilities are still doing well, often being converted into psychological or drug addiction facilities. Brandy sees Houston healthcare remaining strong. Continued healthcare reform will be the only major disruptor of Houston’s hot market. She's keeping a close eye on this year's election.