Skip to Content
SBMI logo

Who We Are

UTHealth Houston

The Center for Quality Health IT Improvement (CQHII) formerly the Gulf Coast Regional Extension Center (GCREC), a center within the UTHealth School of Biomedical Informatics that provides health information technology (HIT) and care transformation services to medical practices in Texas. The CQHII has evolved to provide professional HIT consulting to clinicians and hospitals on a fee-for-service basis. The CQHII has a proven track record of working with Texas clinicians, FQHCs, and small hospitals to improve practice workflows, patient care, and patient safety through the optimized use of EHRs. Consultants provide project management assistance to enable practices to use the EHR to meet federal and state program requirements, as well as utilize quality measures both for regulatory reporting and to improve preventive care delivery. CQHII is working closely with providers to educate and align for preparation to attest to MIPS guidelines for the upcoming years. The CQHII has also been doing extensive work with the UT Health School of Public Health on TX-Department of State Health Services and CDC grant initiatives. The role of CQHII is to help small providers and those serving underrepresented populations improve their population health management for chronic conditions such as diabetes and hypertension, as well as preventive services such as colorectal cancer screening.

Our Expertise

Our consultants are backed by years of experience and training, including the following professional designations:

  • Health IT technical support certification
  • EHR vendor certification
  • Security Certification

Our Team

Susan Fenton

Susan Fenton, PhD, RHIA, FAHIMA
Associate Dean for Academic Affairs and Assistant Professor
Principal Investigator for the Gulf Coast Regional Extension Center
Direct: 713.500.3591
Email: SBMIAcademics@uth.tmc.edu

Susan Fenton, PhD, RHIA, FAHIMA, joined UT Health School of Biomedical Informatics (SBMI) on June 1, 2013 as an assistant professor of biomedical informatics. She came to SBMI from Texas State University in San Marcos, where she was an assistant professor and co-director of the Institute for Health Information Technology. In August 2014, Dr. Fenton transitioned into the role of associate dean for academic affairs, taking over the management responsibilities for the Office of Academic Affairs and helping the school acquire health informatics and information management education accreditation from CAHIIM for the applied health informatics program.

Dr. Fenton’s research interests include workforce development, data management, ICD-10 implementation and health care associated infections. Her interest in workforce development was limited to health IT professionals, but she sees a huge need to develop new methods for healthcare professionals to learn how to use information technology effectively. Her work with the ICD-10 is limited because her research is focused on various impacts related to its implementation, which will no longer be relevant in a few years after implementation is complete. As for health care associated infections, Dr. Fenton has a new project working with an industrial engineer who identifies failure points that result in HAIs. After the failure points are identified, they will determine the impact of the failure points on EHRs and documentation.

Jiajie Zhang

Jiajie Zhang, PhD
Dean/Past Principal Investigator
Direct: 713.500.3922
Email: jiajie.zhang@uth.tmc.edu

Jiajie Zhang, PhD, is the dean and Dr. Doris L. Ross Professor at UTHealth School of Biomedical Informatics (SBMI). He serves as director of the National Center for Cognitive Informatics and Decision Making in Healthcare, for which he is principal investigator of the Strategic Health IT Advanced Research Projects Program’s patient-centered cognitive support initiative. Zhang has spent the past two decades conducting research in biomedical informatics, cognitive science, human-centered computing, decision making and information visualization. He has authored more than 120 journal articles, book chapters, and peer-reviewed proceedings papers. As an educator, he has taught courses in human-computer interaction, electronic health record usability, information visualization and technology-mediated social dynamics.

Our Team

  • Leadership

    Susan Fenton

    Susan Fenton, PhD, RHIA, FAHIMA
    Associate Dean for Academic Affairs and Assistant Professor
    Principal Investigator for the Gulf Coast Regional Extension Center
    Direct: 713.500.3591
    Email: SBMIAcademics@uth.tmc.edu

    Susan Fenton, PhD, RHIA, FAHIMA, joined UT Health School of Biomedical Informatics (SBMI) on June 1, 2013 as an assistant professor of biomedical informatics. She came to SBMI from Texas State University in San Marcos, where she was an assistant professor and co-director of the Institute for Health Information Technology. In August 2014, Dr. Fenton transitioned into the role of associate dean for academic affairs, taking over the management responsibilities for the Office of Academic Affairs and helping the school acquire health informatics and information management education accreditation from CAHIIM for the applied health informatics program.

    Dr. Fenton’s research interests include workforce development, data management, ICD-10 implementation and health care associated infections. Her interest in workforce development was limited to health IT professionals, but she sees a huge need to develop new methods for healthcare professionals to learn how to use information technology effectively. Her work with the ICD-10 is limited because her research is focused on various impacts related to its implementation, which will no longer be relevant in a few years after implementation is complete. As for health care associated infections, Dr. Fenton has a new project working with an industrial engineer who identifies failure points that result in HAIs. After the failure points are identified, they will determine the impact of the failure points on EHRs and documentation.

    Jiajie Zhang

    Jiajie Zhang, PhD
    Dean/Past Principal Investigator
    Direct: 713.500.3922
    Email: jiajie.zhang@uth.tmc.edu

    Jiajie Zhang, PhD, is the dean and Dr. Doris L. Ross Professor at UTHealth School of Biomedical Informatics (SBMI). He serves as director of the National Center for Cognitive Informatics and Decision Making in Healthcare, for which he is principal investigator of the Strategic Health IT Advanced Research Projects Program’s patient-centered cognitive support initiative. Zhang has spent the past two decades conducting research in biomedical informatics, cognitive science, human-centered computing, decision making and information visualization. He has authored more than 120 journal articles, book chapters, and peer-reviewed proceedings papers. As an educator, he has taught courses in human-computer interaction, electronic health record usability, information visualization and technology-mediated social dynamics.

  • Staff

    Megan Crossan

    Megan Crossan
    Program Coordinator
    Direct: 713.500.3477
    Email: Megan.M.Crossan@uth.tmc.edu

    Megan Crossan is the Program Coordinator for the Gulf Coast Regional Extension Center (GCREC). She holds a Bachelors of Science in Marketing from the University of Houston at Clear Lake. She has been with the GCREC since September 2010. In this position, she manages the Customer Relationship Management (CRM) database for tracking providers’ milestone progress. She is responsible for tracking subcontractor/vendor's progress towards project objectives. She is also the financial analyst for the program.

  • Consultants

    Sheila Banyai

    Sheila Banyai, HIT Pro – TS
    Greater Houston Area, including Katy, Pearland, Pasadena, Richmond
    Direct: 281-799-4548
    Email: Sheila.K.Banyai@uth.tmc.edu

    Sheila Banyai is a Security Consultant for the Center for Quality Health IT Improvement (CQHII). In this position, she assists providers in navigating the Merit-based Incentive Payment System (MIPS) and the Alternative Payment Model (APM). Both are tracks through the CMS Quality Payment Program (QPP). She is also the Security Risk Analysis lead for CQHII. Sheila holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Computer Systems Engineering from University of Houston Clear Lake. She is certified in Technical/Software Support Staff Health Information Technology Professional by American Health Information Management Association. She earned the Global Information Assurance Certification (GIAC) Security Essentials (GSEC) through SANS Information Security Training. Sheila has more than 20 years of network/communication experience attained through working with the U.S. Navy, several NASA Contractors, and ExxonMobil.

    Alexa Poole

    Alexa Poole, HIT & HIE Pro
    Greater Houston Area, including Port Author/Beaumont, Nederland, Orange, Conroe
    Direct: 713.500.3936
    Email: Alexa.P.Poole@uth.tmc.edu

    Alexa Poole is a Quality Improvement Advisor for the Center for Quality Health IT Improvement. In this role, she consults providers in effectively employing a diverse set of electronic health records (EHRs) to better their quality of care, thereby increasing revenue and meeting pay-for-performance program requirements. As a health IT consultant, she engages small, rural, and community health center in EHR optimization by identifying needs, project planning, and implementing clinical decision support tools specifically to improve patient outcomes. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in mathematics and a Health Information Technology Management and Exchange Specialist Certification from the University of Texas at Austin. Prior to joining this team, Alexa worked for eClinicalworks as a software training specialist, training physicians and clinical staff on EHR functions via one-on-one coaching and classroom instruction. She has over 10 years of experience in the Health IT.

    Tracy Swoboda

    Tracy Swoboda, RHIA, CCS
    San Antonio, Corpus Christi, and surrounding areas
    Direct: 361.412.7878
    Email: Tracy.L.Swoboda@uth.tmc.edu

    Tracy Swoboda, RHIA, is currently serving as an active, remote, Quality Improvement Advisor II, focusing on quality improvement, data analysis, reporting for state and federal incentive programs, EHR optimization, and achievement of grant-funded quality and health information technology projects. Tracy obtained an Associate Applied Science degree in Medical Record Technology from Wharton County Jr. College, a Bachelor of Science degree in Health Information Management from UTMB Galveston. After her college education, Tracy has worked as a Health Information Director and performed various duties throughout her career, including healthcare accreditation coordination, medical credentialing services, healthcare risk management, healthcare performance improvement initiatives, and inpatient medical coding for Acute Care and Critical Access Hospitals, a nursing home, and rural health clinics.

    Diana Ruiz

    Diana Ruiz
    Laredo, Rio Grande Valley surrounding areas
    Direct: 956-452-1268
    Email: Diana.Ruiz@uth.tmc.edu

    Diana Ruiz is a Quality Improvement Advisor II for the Center for Quality Health IT Improvement and she will work with local small, rural, and FQHC clinical practices to improve practice workflows, patient care, and patient safety through the optimized use of electronic health records and clinical information systems. She first began her career in the plasma industry in 2010 as a Processing Technician working in the laboratory, and moved up to the Quality department four years later. She had many roles within the plasma centers, with Quality Specialist/Coordinator as her main title. Her background includes internal auditing, regulatory compliance and development.