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Johns Hopkins Hospital opens capacity command center

Johns Hopkins Hospital’s state-of-the-art, advanced hospital control center.

The Johns Hopkins Hospital has launched a state-of-the-art, advanced hospital control center. The Judy Reitz Capacity Command Center, designed and built with GE Healthcare Partners (GE), combines the latest in systems engineering, predictive analytics and innovative problem-solving to better manage patient safety, experience, volume and the movement of patients in and out of the hospital, enabling greater access to Johns Hopkins’ lifesaving services. The Capacity Command Center incorporates systems engineering principles, which are commonly seen in most complex industries, such as aerospace, aviation and power. But for healthcare, an industry that deals with critically ill patients, integrating these tools has been difficult.

“The Johns Hopkins Hospital is a unique and complex institution with many working parts, and a unique institution requires a unique solution,” says Jim Scheulen, Johns Hopkins Medicine’s chief administrative officer for emergency medicine and capacity management. “Our Capacity Command Center helps us improve the experiences our patients have when they seek our care, and we are pleased to be among the leaders in this innovation.”

Inside the command center, about 24 staff members from different departments now work together in a single room, 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. The command center also houses a sophisticated system with a wall of computer monitors that provides situational awareness and triggers the command center team to take immediate action. During a typical afternoon, the system receives about 500 messages per minute from 14 different Johns Hopkins IT systems generating real-time data to trigger action throughout the hospital.

“In the past, like most hospitals, we were dependent on traditional technology – phones, email and IT systems – to manage the hospital, assign beds, etc.,” says Mary Margaret Jacobs, director of patient/family and visitor services for The Johns Hopkins Hospital. “The capacity command center brings the latest high-tech tools into a NASA-like control center here at our hospital.”

The technology in the command center keeps staff members informed 24/7 about when there is an influx of patients coming into the hospital, which hospital units need additional staff members, the status of how many patients are being treated, the need for and availability of beds across the hospital, the highest-priority admissions and discharges, and other information essential for ensuring high-quality patient care.

Since it opened earlier this year, representatives from 50 health systems across the United States and from four countries have visited the capacity command center. Early results demonstrate improved patient experience and operational outcomes in the following areas:

  • Patient transfers from other hospitals: There has been a 60 percent improvement in the ability to accept patients with complex medical conditions from other hospitals around the region and country.
  • Ambulance pickup: Johns Hopkins’ critical care team is now dispatched 63 minutes sooner to pick up patients from outside hospitals.
    • Emergency Department: A patient is assigned a bed 30 percent faster after a decision is made to admit him or her from the Emergency Department. Patients are also transferred 26 percent faster after they are assigned a bed.
  • Operating room: Transfer delays from the operating room after a procedure have been reduced by 70 percent.
  • Patient discharges: Twenty-one percent more patients are now discharged before noon, compared to last year.

“The Capacity Command Center is giving front-line managers real-time information about their business,” Scheulen says. “Instead of relying on old data and information, we use information that’s very active, interactive and transparent so we can make the most informed decisions for our patients and their care.”

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