Our Epic UGM Field Trip and Being Houston Strong

I’m watching my team busily plan our first field trip to the Epic User Group Meeting (UGM) in Madison.  For the past few weeks they have been planning for this annual event that brings over 9,000 Epic health system customers to Madison, Wisconsin.  We here at Decisio Health are very excited to host our customers and colleagues at our first UGM Networking Reception this Sunday night.


But despite looking forward to the opportunity to visit with customers and partners from around the country, I can’t help but feel a bit disconnected from life outside of Houston. It was only a few weeks ago that we Houstonians were faced with what is believed to be the costliest natural disaster in U.S. history. Members of our own Decisio Health team were displaced from their homes and sustained great damage from Hurricane Harvey. 


I watched the people around me embody the values of a city that is strong, resilient, and kind. This Category 4 hurricane brought people together to combat death and destruction.  But what compounded this crisis further, was the fact that Houston is home to the Texas Medical Center (TMC) – the largest medical complex in the world.  With 10,000 beds and over 10M annual patient encounters per year, those of us in the healthcare space were anxious about the potential harm to patients.


We read about the closure of many hospitals, heard accounts of hospital patients waiting for evacuation, and saw footage of ambulances attempting to wade through water to reach them.  Remembering that Katrina essentially destroyed the New Orleans hospital system in 2005, our concern for these patients in our own backyard, at TMC, continued to grow. 


But, TMC was ready.  After sustaining $2B in loss from tropical storm Allison in 2001, TMC invested in a network of floodgates that protected its facilities with astonishing effectiveness against Harvey.  Additionally, nurses and doctors were brought in ahead of time.  Many of the staff did not leave the facility for several days – including Bill McKeon, president and CEO of TMC.  Once again, it was humbling to witness the courage, compassion, and strength of our city.


The term “Houston Strong” has continued to gain momentum.  As a Houstonian, I am pained for the damage Houston has endured, but I am proud of how our city, our hospitals, and our residents have come together to survive this crisis.   Now, more than ever, the importance of implementing infrastructure, tools, process, and the right people to care for patients is imperative.  So, with this thought in mind, I look forward to collaborating this week, in Madison, with our customers and colleagues who are at the front line of patient care.