Epic recognized UTHealth Houston for achieving its highest Gold Stars rating — Level 10 — at the Users Group Meeting banquet on Aug. 23. It takes nearly 400 Gold Stars to qualify for this status, and the university reached it in record time.
“A Level 10 designation from Epic means we are delivering a highly advanced EHR system and an excellent user experience,” said Babatope O. Fatuyi, MD, chief medical information officer. “This is as a result of the continuous desire for excellence by our departments, core operations, and academic units at UTHealth Houston. It is validation that we have one of the best EHRs in Texas.”
The university is the only health care institution in Houston to achieve this top level, and one of approximately 15 in the country, according to Martin J. Citardi, MD, vice dean of clinical technology.
“Epic is constantly improving its software in an effort to enhance the experience for both patients and their caregivers,” Citardi said. “At UTHealth Houston, we have made an explicit commitment to deploy the most advanced feature set that Epic offers, and we monitor our progress through Epic’s Gold Stars program.”
The Gold Stars program helps organizations improve clinical and financial outcomes by adding enhancements to the core Epic software.
There are hundreds of Gold Stars that can be implemented in the Epic system, explained Ann Snowberger, PMP, senior project manager of enterprise IT. Each of these offers a user solution. For instance, one Gold Star enabled physicians to see their academic and clinical schedules in one place rather than toggle back and forth between screens.
“Every Gold Star we implement helps users manage their work or health care easier and faster. Implementing as many as possible just makes good sense,” Snowberger said. “The Gold Stars program adds value and positively impacts patient care at UTHealth Houston.”
Out of 426 possible Gold Stars, an organization needs at least 397 to be eligible for Level 10 status.
UTHealth Houston launched its Epic system in May 2021 with enough Gold Stars to start at Level 7 (at least 320) and move up to Level 8 (at least 341 stars) in August 2021. The university reached an official Level 9 (at least 363 stars) by February 2022 and an unofficial Level 10 by April 2022.
“By the winter and spring, we had already achieved Levels 9 and 10. However, nothing was official until now because Epic reviews the Gold Stars program of its organizations once a year in late summer,” Snowberger said.
Though UTHealth Houston has hit Epic’s highest Gold Stars milestone, the work is not over.
“Gold Stars is not a stagnant program. Some stars are new, and some get retired. Epic is very progressive and always evolving. This will be an ongoing effort,” she said.