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OM in the News: Johns Hopkins’ Capacity Command Center

January 12, 2017
Johns Hopkins Hospital’s state-of-the-art, advanced hospital control center

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

Johns Hopkins Hospital, reports Analytics Magazine (Jan.-Feb., 2017), recently launched an advanced control center to better manage patient safety, experience, volume, and the movement of patients in and out of the hospital. The Capacity Command Center incorporates systems engineering principles, which are commonly seen in aerospace, aviation and power industries, but are rare in hospitals.

In the one room center, 24 staff members work together, 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 center team to take immediate action. During a typical afternoon, the system receives about 500 messages/minute from 14 different hospital IT systems generating real-time data. “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 a hospital exec.

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 essential information.

Early results demonstrate improved patient experience and operational outcomes such as: (1) 60% improvement in the ability to accept patients with complex medical conditions from other hospitals; (2) critical care team is now dispatched 63 minutes sooner to pick up patients arriving in ambulances from other hospitals; (3) patients are assigned a bed 30% faster from the ER; (4) transfer delays from the OR after a procedure have been reduced by 70%; and (5) 21% more patients are now discharged before noon.

Classroom discussion questions:

  1. Why have hospitals been slow to adopt these process control procedures used in other industries?
  2. What hospital functions could benefit from the command center concept?
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