The Texas Medical Center: Black Healthcare Professionals And INNOVATION


Marylyn R. Harris, Contributing Writer – The Texas Medical Center (TMC) is the world’s largest medical complex. Since opening in 1945, TMC has been pioneering patient care, research, education, and prevention. Today, TMC comprises: 21 renowned hospitals, 14 support organizations, 10 academic institutions, eight academic and research institutions, seven nursing programs, three public health organizations, three medical schools, two pharmacy schools, and a dental school. The TMC boasts, 106,000 employees, 25,000 babies, 180,000 annual surgeries, and 750,000 ER visits per year (TMC, 2016).

I am a seasoned healthcare provider and executive who has worked and trained at TMC institutions for the last thirty years. Thousands of innovative Black healthcare professionals work within the TMC. Additionally, a large percentage of the 8 million patients treated at TMC institutions (, 2016) are African-American. Interestingly, only a small number of Black healthcare professionals do business with the world-renowned institutions that call TMC home. As I investigate opportunities to sell products and services to the TMC, I am discovering a disturbing trend surrounding Black healthcare professionals, the TMC, business and innovation. I believe that TMC business practices should be increasingly inclusive of business owners who reflect the race/ethnicity of the patients they treat.

Aside from a few supplier diversity programs at select TMC institutions, there are real barriers to doing business with entities in the TMC for Black healthcare professionals. Additionally, if you are one of the many Black healthcare professionals who work in (or for) the TMC, procurement and innovation opportunities are not always recognizable. Over the next several months, my columns will raise awareness of opportunities, provide information and resources that focus on increasing the number of Black healthcare professionals who do business with the TMC and participate in TMC innovation opportunities.

I have participated at TMCX since its launch in 2014. Equally disturbing is the fact that I have not witnessed the robust participation or knowledge of the existence of TMCX among Black healthcare professionals. Positioned to become one of the premier life science commercialization clusters in the world, the TMC (TMCInnovation, 2016) Innovation Institute utilizes the world-class research assets and clinical operations of its members to foster healthcare breakthroughs. Providing the tools firms need to close the gap between research and commercialization, the TMC Innovation Institute ensures the acceleration and incubation of transformative health care tools. The TMC Innovation Institute includes wet lab research areas and office space in the TMC. The services consist of an incubator, an accelerator program, co-working space, industry partners, leading educational resources, and unprecedented access. Also, it provides expertise in FDA regulation, intellectual property, business modeling, and financing critical to the success of early-stage life science companies.

With a team of diverse professional researchers, I plan to conduct a SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats) Analysis of TMC organizations. The goal of the analysis is to identify outreach efforts, programs, and services that seek to do business and promote innovation with Black healthcare providers. These columns will feature information, resources, and opportunities discovered from this analysis. Black healthcare professionals with clinical expertise, transferrable skills, and “big dreams” that desire to do business with TMC institutions or to launch innovative healthcare/life science – related product or service businesses can greatly benefit from this information. Stay connected!

Marylyn R. Harris, RN, MSN, MBA is a healthcare executive, educator, entrepreneur, and author. Contact Marylyn at

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