Compared to other industries, healthcare tends to innovate at a snail’s pace. In fact, a 2017 study found that the healthcare industry tended to be about a decade behind other industries in customer engagement technology adoption. However, in the past few years a new innovation emerged in healthcare: the hospital command center. In this blog, we’ll discuss what exactly a hospital command center is, why hospital command centers need to continue to innovate, and some cutting-edge technologies they should consider implementing.

What Is a Hospital Command Center?

Defining a hospital command center can be a bit difficult because different hospitals use them to achieve different goals. Urgent Matters, a portal for innovative flow strategies at George Washington University, examined the command centers of several leading hospitals, including Johns Hopkins, and determined that “while each was designed for a unique purpose, several common goals emerged.” Those goals are:

  1. Improving patient outcomes
  2. Improving flow and efficiency
  3. Improving coordination between facilities
The goals of a hospital command center are improved patient outcomes, improved flow & efficiency, and improved inter-facility coordination

Hospital command centers achieve these common goals through analyzing real-time patient and facility data. This data is used to achieve the command center’s goals in several ways, including:

  • Centralizing quality control and care coordination.
  • Maximizing bed capacity and/or reducing wait times.
  • Improving inter-facility communications.

Urgent Matters also provided specific examples of what hospital command centers have accomplished. Examples included:

  • Humber River Hospital (Ontario) improving patient outcomes by tracking patients’ risk of clinical deterioration and sepsis via the National Early Warning Score 2 (NEWS2) algorithm.
  • Johns Hopkins Hospital (Balitmore) improving flow and efficiency by reducing operating room transfer delays by 70% and assigning ED patients to beds 30% faster.
  • Yale New Haven Hospital maximizing bed capacity by expanding effective bed capacity by 148 beds during flu season peak.
  • Florida Hospital improving inter-facility communications to facilitate patient transfers across nine facilities to solve the logistical problems of treating over 2 million patients a year.

While hospital command centers have clearly had a positive effect on the care experience, they should always strive to improve this experience even more. They can do this by continuing to innovate. Let’s examine why cutting-edge innovation is so important for hospital command centers.

Why Hospital Command Centers Need to Innovate

Just like any other area of the hospital, innovation is key to the hospital command center. Why? By continuing to innovate, the command center can better achieve its goals of improved patient outcomes, hospital flow and efficiency, and inter-facility coordination. These three goals all ultimately lead to a better healthcare experience.

Furthermore, innovation can also help hospital command centers prepare for unforeseen crises, such as the COVID-19 pandemic. The challenges COVID-19 presented the healthcare industry resulted in one of the largest leaps in innovation the industry has seen in some time. In particular, hospitals have placed an unprecedented emphasis on capacity management and patient monitoring, both of which are handled by the hospital command center. Unfortunately, this innovation leap was reactionary. Had the healthcare industry been more proactive in implementing cutting-edge innovation, hospitals would have been better prepared at the onset of the pandemic.

In a recent HIMSS webinar, “Future Evolution of the Hospital Command Center,” Mitchell Parker of Indiana University Health discussed the importance of improving the hospital command center. Parker stated that command center innovation is essential to:

  • Use scarce resources, such as PPE in a pandemic, more efficiently.
  • Streamline the adoption of new technologies, such as telehealth and remote monitoring.
  • Analyze, monitor, and improve upon new service offerings.
  • Provide better quality service and care experience.
  • Ensure the secure transfer of data from devices to the EHR.
  • Recognize and correct technology issues before they become bigger problems.

Mitchell emphasized the importance of incorporating security and quality improvements in command center innovation. Now, let’s look at some cutting-edge technologies hospital command centers should consider.

Tech Hospital Command Centers Should Consider

In order to achieve their goals, hospital command centers use a variety of technologies. While the list of useful apps, programs, and software is long, we’ll be focusing on four types of tech that are either essential for a hospital command center or offer unique innovation opportunities. These categories are:

  • Business Intelligence Dashboards
  • Order Management Software
  • Remote Monitoring Tech
  • Supply Chain Software

Business Intelligence Dashboards

With data analysis being one of the core responsibilities of the hospital command center, it’s imperative for command center staff to be able to clearly and quickly view important metrics, such as wait times and bed usage, in real-time. One of the best tools to achieve this is business intelligence software, particularly business intelligence dashboards. Business intelligence solutions, such as Novarad’s NovaDash®, typically include customizable dashboards that make it easy to zero-in on areas in which hospitals can improve efficiency. Business intelligence dashboards also provide ample data for use in predictive analytics.

Order Management Software

Order management software, such as our iOrder solution, helps streamline workflows and provides ambulatory order transparency, among other benefits. For hospital command centers, a major benefit of order management software is the ability to track orders and predict staffing needs.

Remote Monitoring Tech

The COVID-19 pandemic has streamlined the adoption of new technologies in healthcare. Among the most innovative of these new technologies is remote monitoring tech. Remote monitoring devices, such as wearables that measure vital signs or cameras and microphones, allow the care team to monitor a patient’s condition without actually being in the room with them. As telehealth continues to grow, remote monitoring technology is even more essential. Hospital command center staff can use remote monitoring to alert the care team that a patient is in need. They can also use data provided by remote monitoring devices in predictive analytics.

Supply Chain Software

Monitoring supply levels and predicting supply usage is another important responsibility of the hospital command center. Supply chain software, such as enterprise resource planning (ERP) software can make this task more efficient. Supply chain management is important in normal times, but it’s absolutely critical during a pandemic. For more tips on improving your facility’s supply chain management, read about what several health systems learned from the first wave of COVID-19 and how they plan to improve.

Hospital Command Centers and a Better Tomorrow

The hospital command center is one of the biggest healthcare innovations over the last few years. Having staff dedicated to monitoring facility and patient data, analyze the data and predict trends, and alert the care team of patient needs is helping to improve the overall patient experience. However, as 2020 has taught us, we should never stop innovating.

In order to continue meeting their goals of improved patient outcomes, flow and efficiency, and inter-facility coordination, hospital command centers must continually evaluate their existing technologies and pursue emerging ones. As we discussed earlier, some of the most innovative technologies hospitals should consider for their command centers are:

  • Business Intelligence Dashboards
  • Order Management Software
  • Remote Monitoring Technology
  • Supply Chain Software

At iPro, our patented ambulatory order management solution, iOrder, can give your command center insight into patient orders through complete visibility. This data can help the command center in analyzing what procedures are being performed and when, staffing requirements, and workflow efficiency. Learn more about how we partner with you to achieve your goals, or contact us today.