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Eyes in the Sky: Using Command Centers in Healthcare

Over the past several years leading healthcare organizations have been implementing command centers to manage capacity, improve operational efficiency, and reduce unnecessary length of stay.

Analogous to air traffic control in aviation, where a group of multidisciplinary experts guide their planes to safe, efficient landings, command centers can bring together bed planning, nursing, clinicians, care management, EVS, care management, transfer center, and transport together with technology and analytics to facilitate safe, efficient stays for their patients.

All command centers rely on co-location of key staff and the right technology and analytics to drive the right decisions for their patients. Though varying in scope and technologies, command centers are seeing some impressive results.

  • Most recently, Tampa General went live with a large command center implementation using a GE product, and have reported 5% reduction in readmissions and discharge delays by nearly a half day on average.
  • Others, like Yale and NYU have leveraged their Epic EMR to drive their capacity management, and reported reductions in EVS turnaround times and intercampus transport.

So, is a command center right for your organization? Some key questions to think about when considering a command center:

  • Is my organization complex enough to get major value from a command center?
    • Not all organizations will get the same benefits from standing up a command center, and the higher the complexity the more room there typically is for gains. Organizations with multiple hospitals, active transfer centers, and/or significant patient flow, discharge, and length of stay issues can get value from a command center.
  • What does my organization currently struggle with in patient movement, care coordination, EVS, and transport? Where do I have data? Where are my blind spots?
    • Assessing your operational and technology pain points can help you understand how a command center can help optimize your patient flow.
  • What capabilities does my current EMR have to provide vital information to my staff? What real time reporting do I have to monitor capacity and patient movement?
    • You may already have some of the technology necessary to stand up a command center, leveraging what you have can save time and cost.
  • Does my organization want to focus on patient movement and operations, or patient care and remote monitoring?
    • Your organization doesn’t have to take on everything at once. Clients have been successful with implementing both simultaneously, rolling out patient movement followed by patient care, or leveraging just one.
  • Do I have access to a large enough space with back-up power and enough network connectivity to support a command center?
    • While they come in all shapes and sizes, from a few hundred to over 8000 square feet, command centers need to be 24/7 operations that have the same redundancies as your acute care areas. Determining your scope can help you define your physical space needs.

The Wilshire Group has experience advising clients on how develop and implement a command center strategy. If you’d like to chat about what might be a good fit for your organization please reach out to Freeman Jenkins and Matt Perron.