How can hospitals increase capacity without expanding building space, improve physician productivity without adding to work hours, and minimize patient wait-times while increasing the number of incoming patients? A growing number of medical centers claim to have found these solutions through a new, innovative form of digital management: hospital command centers.
WHAT ARE HOSPITAL COMMAND CENTERS?
Command centers utilize advanced predictive analytic technology and artificial intelligence to monitor and target real-time data on incoming patients, patient discharges, bed availability, and other hospital logistics. While hospital command centers are progressively growing in use among medical centers across the globe, each hospital develops and utilizes its own facilities to address its unique needs and issues.
HOW HOSPITAL COMMAND CENTERS OPERATE
The Johns Hopkins Hospital is widely considered to be the first hospital to launch a full-scale hospital command center. The 5,200-square-foot facility holds more than 20 digital screens lined along the walls: each supplemented with dashboards that provide staff members with real-time information. 24 staff members from various departments are equipped with “real-time and predictive information, and empowered to take action to prevent or resolve bottlenecks, reduce patient wait time, coordinate services and reduce risk.” When first developing the command center, the primary solution Johns Hopkins sought to address was an increase of the hospital’s capacity. Since facility’s implementation, the command center has greatly impacted hospital capacity and workflow; the OR holds having decreased by 80%, emergency department boarding have reduced by 20%, and there has been a 60% increase in patient transfers from neighboring hospitals. “We’ve essentially created 16 additional beds of capacity, without actually opening 16 beds,” says Jim Scheulen, chief administrative officer for Emergency Medicine & Capacity Management at Johns Hopkins Medicine.
Earlier this year the Florida Hospital, a member of the Adventist Health System, launched its own medical command center. This announcement marked the creation of the first command center used to organize care across multiple hospitals. The facility will coordinate patient care for 9 hospitals, with over 2 million annual patient visits. The command center will use predictive analysis to aid hospital staff in improving “quality, safe, and optimized clinical operations.” Through the utilization of a “Wall of Analytics” staff members will monitor data from multiple departments and systems to prioritize patient activities and discharges. “Florida Hospital prides itself on utilizing innovative technology to provide the best possible care for our patients. Our goal is to improve the patient experience, enabling caregivers to spend more time with their patients while making care decisions more easily and quickly,” said Daryl Tol, president & CEO of Florida Hospital and Adventist Health System’s Central Florida Division.
IMPROVING PATIENT CARE
While the strategic functions of hospital command centers vary, the general structure and purpose largely remain the same. Since the passage of the Affordable Care Act in 2010, many hospitals have had to find creative solutions to address the large increase in patients and regulations. With the increase in patients, in addition to new documentation requirements, many practitioners have reported experiencing physician burnout –which can often lead to a spike in medical errors. In response to these pervasive issues, hospital command centers can streamline administrative functions and thus optimize the practice of patient-centered care. Eric Stevens, CEO of Acute Services at Florida Hospital, reinforces the patient-centered role of hospital command centers, stating “We’re going to spend all this money—$15 million—on a technological solution, but it really has an individual person at the center of it.”