Command Center to Improve Patient Flow

Published in Insight - March 2016

If you’re looking to take the pulse of The Johns Hopkins Hospital, look no further than its new command center—a 2,550-square-foot “inner brain” packed with giant monitors displaying real-time data about everything from bed availability and operating room efficiency to patient status and staffing.

It’s all part of a larger project aimed at improving institutional efficiency—one that includes the use of a simulation model of the hospital that draws on historical data to forecast future demand for patient beds.

Previously, staff members relied on time-consuming phone calls, emails and even faxes to communicate bed availability among departments. The new command center will control the flow of patients from the moment they are admitted to their discharge—all from one place.

“What we’re trying to do is change the way we manage patient capacity in the institution and perhaps ultimately throughout the health system,” says James Scheulen, chief administrative officer for emergency medicine and capacity management for Johns Hopkins Medicine. The project is a collaboration with GE Healthcare Camden Group.

Staff members from bed management, the Hopkins Access Line and admitting sit at rows of workstations inside the command center near the Nelson/Harvey lobby. Analytic tools developed by GE provide real-time information from multiple systems across the hospital for 22 monitors. The data allow the team to make quick, informed decisions on bed assignments or whether a unit needs assistance.

“We don’t believe any other hospital is using these integrated tools and command center technology,” says Mary Margaret Jacobs, director of patient/family and visitor services for The Johns Hopkins Hospital.

Jacobs says this proactive approach will help ensure the command center’s success. “Technology helps, but transforming the culture and aligning operations are going to be critically important,” she says.