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Cream of the crop: Epic team shines at XGM conference

Written By: Vicki Powers, UT Physicians | Updated: May 20, 2024
UTHealth Houston leadership at Epic XGM

UTHealth Houston had a strong contingency at Epic XGM 2024 sharing expertise in five presentations around training, reporting, and data analytics. (Photo by UTHealth Houston)

A mighty force of UTHealth Houston employees took the stage at the Epic XGM 2024 (Expert Group Meetings) conference, featuring more than 9,000 attendees. This annual event at Epic’s Wisconsin headquarters brought together health care professionals and IT experts to learn and share knowledge about Epic’s software and systems.

“The sheer number of UTHealth Houston presentations accepted in the XGM agenda speaks volumes about the success of our efforts with Epic and our employees who train our Epic community,” said Babatope Fatuyi, MD, chief medical information officer at UTHealth Houston. “Each year, we have more employees sharing their lessons learned, strategies, and success.”

The university participated in five presentations focused on data analytics, reporting, and training. The following provides a glimpse of these sessions.

Expanding Care Companion

Presenters: Brittney Townsend, RN; Brian Heaps, MD

Brittney Townsend and Brian Heaps at the Epic XGM conference
Brittney Townsend, RN, and Brian Heaps, MD, shared best practices regarding the Pregnancy Care Companion tool. (Photo by UTHealth Houston)

UTHealth Houston shared the stage at the Epic XGM conference in a joint presentation with University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics about the implementation of Care Companion within the electronic health record. Epic identified UTHealth Houston as a standout leader in using the Pregnancy Care Companion effectively. Because we have the highest patient engagement with the communication tool, Epic invited our team to present and share best practices.

“Although UTHealth is new to the Epic community, we have already been identified as clear leaders,” said Brian R. Heaps, MD, Epic physician builder, OB-GYN council chair, and associate professor at McGovern Medical School at UTHealth Houston. “It’s exciting to see how we can use available tools to improve the health of our patients.”

UTHealth Houston uses care plans to provide patients with specific information at the right time to help them progress through a medical plan. The team’s presentation focused on the Pregnancy Care Companion within OB-GYN. This tool gives patients tasks and messages based on their gestational age. The team shared their methods for reporting and monitoring patients and tracking progress and outcomes.

“We were able to identify not only technical strategies but also how our core value of patient-centric care drove many of our successes,” Heaps said. “Patients have been actively involved during their office visits with the communication tool. This is just a part of improving the overall patient experience.”

The presentation also covered how we customize Care Companion to meet patients’ needs. This includes providing direct links to pregnancy classes and simplifying the delivery registration process. Patient outcomes show a 6% increase in engagement and 75% positive feedback.

Scaling Cogito community report builders across the university

Presenters: Miguel Rodriguez, MBA; Denise Jackson, MBA; and Rahil Tai, MD, MBA

The limited size of our core analytics team was a catalyst for developing the Community Report Builder program. The university needed a more efficient approach to meet the increasing demand for analytics. During the presentation, the team showcased its innovative strategy that enables operational departments to independently create custom reports.

Miguel Rodriguez, MBA; Denise Jackson, MBA; and Rahil Tai, MD, MBA at the Epic XGM conference
Miguel Rodriguez, Denise Jackson, and Rahil Tai, MD (l. to r.), discussed the value of community report builders within the university. (Photo by UTHealth Houston)

“The impact of this program has been significant and created a shift toward continuous learning and innovation, with more individuals becoming involved in analytics,” said Miguel Rodriguez, MBA, PMP, senior director of healthcare IT analytics and training at UTHealth Houston. “With more individuals capable of creating reports, this has contributed to faster decision-making and better data utilization.”

Denise Jackson, MBA, Epic business intelligence support manager at UTHealth Houston, describes the Cogito community report builders as the backbone of the university’s data-driven culture.

“The most remarkable aspect is the collaborative spirit that has flourished within our community,” Jackson said. “By sharing best practices and innovative solutions, our report builders have fostered an environment where continuous improvement and peer-to-peer mentorship thrive.”

Rahil Tai, MD, MBA, director of quality and performance improvement with UTHealth Houston Neurosciences, described the value of the program structure, which allows the central team to focus on Epic upgrades, enhancements, and optimizations while community report builders focus on the department and specialty-level reporting. “The balance and structure the program establishes makes it relevant and important to share with our colleagues,” Tai said. “Strong and synergistic partnership between services lines and the central Cogito team is key to success.”

Exploring data with SlicerDicer starter pack dashboards

Presenters: Hannah Tarver, Orapun Phuthomdi, Onaome Mukoro

Hannah Tarver, Orapun Phuthomdi, Onaome Mukoro
Hannah Tarver, Orapun Phuthomdi, and Onaome Mukoro (l. to r.) led the session on SlicerDicer starter pack dashboards. (Photo by UTHealth Houston)

UTHealth Houston took a proactive approach by developing a starter pack dashboard to showcase Best Practice Advisories (BPA) data. This lets our operational leaders quickly extract valuable insights into BPA implementation and identify areas of improvement, according to Hannah Tarver, Epic business intelligence applications specialist at UTHealth Houston.

“This dashboard not only empowers our users but also serves as a launching pad with curated reports,” Tarver said. “This allows them to delve directly into investigations and make personalized adjustments.”

Orapun Phuthomdi, project manager, COACH Performance Improvement at UTHealth Houston, felt excited and honored to present for the first time at Epic’s XGM Conference.

“It’s always a privilege to represent operations and share insights while showcasing the collaboration among teams within our organization,” Phuthomdi said.

The session detailed how to track the progress of new BPAs, observe trends with different user types, and understand the potential implications of these trends.

Driving innovation inside Epic training

Presenters: Monika Somerville, MBA; Marquis McBride

Content: Michael Miata; Chioma Odili, MSN, RN; Aisha Ahmed, MEd

UTHealth Houston’s 15-person Epic training team keeps 7,000+ users informed on current and future technology needs relating to Epic. Part of their efforts focused on launching the Epic Resource Center as a centralized hub for Epic-related training, new features, and upgrade-related content. Previously, users had difficulty locating relevant information and had to leave Epic to find answers.

Monika Somerville, Marquis McBride at the Epic XGM conference
Marquis McBride and Monika Somerville took the stage to share UTHealth Houston’s innovations in Epic training.

Embracing innovation is crucial for sustained success. This is why Michael Miata believes this topic was important to share at the Epic XGM conference. As technology progresses, it’s imperative that workflows and resources keep pace with these changes.

“Our Epic training team is committed to driving positive and forward-thinking transformation to maintain our leadership position,” said Miata, Epic principal trainer specialist III at UTHealth Houston.

UTHealth Houston benchmarked other successful teams on training, which provided valuable guidance. However, Chioma Odili, MSN, RN, Epic principal trainer specialist III at UTHealth Houston, said the university’s unique situation required solutions tailored to our needs. UTHealth Houston crafted a training program to meet high standards while addressing pandemic challenges. The team combined benchmarking with its innovative ideas to achieve this.

“Innovation in Epic training is crucial because it helps us adapt to new technologies and user needs,” Odili said. “It also encourages creativity, allowing us to develop strategies that improve learning while minimizing disruptions to daily operations.”

Odili emphasized how innovation was even more important to overcome considering the long-term challenges created by COVID-19. This included aspects such as remote learning requirements and adapting to new protocol and procedures.

“I’m incredibly proud of the Epic training team for their innovative approach, particularly with the launch of the Epic Resource Center,” said Aisha Ahmed, MEd, assistant director of enterprise Epic training and technology at UTHealth Houston. “Staff can remain in Epic and locate information inside the learning home dashboards, allowing them to prioritize patient care.”

Empowering UTHealth Houston students for the future of health care

Presenters: Marquis McBride, Ashanth Jacob, Nathan Fernandez, Monika Somerville, MBA

Marquis McBride, Ashanth Jacob, Nathan Fernandez, Monika Somerville
Monika Somerville, Nathan Fernandez, Ashanth Jacob, and Marquis McBride (l. to r.) shared how UTHealth Houston’s new partnership is helping future medical professionals learn Epic in a clinical setting. (Photo by UTHealth Houston)

The Epic training team created a curriculum supporting students from three UTHealth Houston schools. They are learning how to use Epic in a clinical setting. The goal is to train these medical professionals of the future in Epic before they graduate from McGovern Medical School, Cizik School of Nursing, and the McWilliams School of Biomedical Informatics. The partnership started in August 2023.

This project served as a perfect example for an Epic XGM conference session. It showcases UTHealth Houston’s successful hands-on training approach that other institutions can adopt to lead to better patient outcomes.

The student impact has been overwhelmingly positive, said Marquis McBride, Epic principal trainer specialist at UTHealth Houston. He said students appreciate the opportunity to practice in a realistic setting without the risk to actual patients. He also said they report feeling more confident and prepared for their clinical rotations. The curriculum offers a more engaging and interactive learning experience enhanced by customized patient builds.

“I’m most proud that we built brand-new patients from scratch to prepare students for real-world experiences,” he said. “They will have a deeper understanding in a clinical setting.”

UTHealth Houston is meeting and exceeding expectations around its strategy and results with Epic. The university looks forward to sharing more success stories at the upcoming UGM conference later this year.

As the clinical practice of McGovern Medical School at UTHealth Houston, UT Physicians has locations across the Greater Houston area to serve the community. To schedule an appointment, call 888-4UT-DOCS.