Harris Cares


The goal of Harris Cares: A 2020 Vision of Health in Harris County is to gauge the overall health status of those who live in Harris County, the relationship between public health and healthcare, and forward suggested recommendations for Harris County officials to consider implementing to improve the overall health of the community.

Earlier this year, Harris County Public Health (HCPH) asked permission from Harris County Commissioners Court to review public health/prevention and make recommendations on how to improve health in Harris County. In April 2019, Commissioners Court asked HCPH to add healthcare delivery to its assessment on health. The result was a months-long process to review both public health and healthcare delivery and this study is the first phase of that review.

This landmark report is broken into 3 sections and is supported by 5 systems-level Transformational Recommendations. The report also has sub-recommendations on chapter topics that support the overall Transformational Recommendations. 

The 3 sections are:

  • Transforming Health in Harris County looks at the relationship between public health and healthcare and its impact on costs and life expectancy.
  • Building resilience in Harris County looks at the structural components of the environment, emergency preparedness, mental health, and health equity and their impact on health.
  • A Snapshot of Health in Harris County provides an in-depth exploration of the data as it relates to specific health outcomes in the domains of chronic disease, injury, family health, and infectious disease.



Poor health outcomes exist disproportionately across the Harris County community and are influenced by unequal distribution of opportunity for good health. 

Zip code is a better predictor of health than one’s genetic code. The gravity of this fact is unmistakably felt when one realized that neighbors who live 20 minutes apart could expect to live 20 years less.

“ We need to start talking about health, not just health care, and invest in the things that improve health outcomes, which generally are outside of health care.”
- Elena Marks, President and CEO, Episcopal Health Foundation

“What will the ‘H’ represent in 10 years? Much more than ‘Hospital.’ People should see it and think of ‘Health.’…..Our focus should be on determinants of health, not just health care or hospital care.”
- American Hospital Association

“The ultimate goal is improve health and improving healthcare is one a small piece of that.”
- Dr. Stephan J. Spann, Founding Dean, University of Houston College of Medicine

“It is vital to have local solutions to local problems….we have some innovative thinking here that can create new ways to tackle some of our challenges.”
-Dr. Chad Lemaire, Legacy Community Health, Doctors for Change

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