In 2016, AdventHealth reached its 3,000-bed capacity in its network of nine Central Florida hospitals, and was close to turning patients away in doubt of being able to provide satisfactory care for every single inpatient. This red line, dubbed as a “never event”, pushed AdventHealth to open its 20,000-square-foot command centre it calls “Mission Control”.
It’s all about data and technology
Manned by a team of 150 members working round the clock, Mission Control works through two sets of capabilities: a digital twin simulation model and a wall of analytics. The digital twin, informed by several data sources, allows for identifying key aspects that can be added to support demand models or shape future system designs in the future, Carlos Escobar, Vice President of IT Market Operations and Planning at AdventHealth, explains. Equipped with predictive capabilities, Mission Control lets the hospital system see potential bottlenecks, and thus, resolve them before they even happen.
The wall of analytics, on the other hand, is where they depend for daily efficient operations. The staff refer to data on real-time capacity across the hospitals, which are then projected on more than 60 monitors, thereby, giving them end-to-end visibility on emergency department waiting, bed capacity, and patient acuity.
With this information at their fingertips, decision-makers, such as the medical director and the nursing leader, are able to make informed decisions to move patients through the system quickly and safely. Accordingly, AdventHealth is able to reduce the number of patients it turns away.
“I see the value in command centres, not just for hospitals, but for every ambulatory asset that exists, in managing not just the capacity and throughput in the four walls of the hospital but throughout the community as well,” Escobar argues. At a difficult time like COVID-19, for instance, the command centre, with its big data tools and the ability to monitor across the hospital system, is able to manage patient flow despite the surge. AdventHealth took and used all the data they have on ICU beds and ventilators to prepare beds in case the number of infections gets out of hand.
But it’s also about the people
Having a command centre to optimise hospital operations definitely has its warrant. While some say it depends on a hospital’s size and others on readiness for an integrated approach, Escobar believes that the hardest part in building Mission Control is not the technology, but the people and process.
Patient movement across a large hospital network is only possible through coordinated processes from every related unit. To illustrate, AdventHealth’s nine hospitals had “slightly different” admission processes even though they are all located in Central Florida; thus, one of the first steps was to ensure every hospital follows a standard process necessary to build data structures for use in Mission Control.
Moreover, like every other hospital with a command centre, AdventHealth finds change management a vital strategy to get buy-in from stakeholders, not only the front-line staff but the management as well.
On-site support and orientation for existing and new team members are equally necessary to make sure everyone is on the same page with regard to patient flow. Cross-training the staff from their primary role to a secondary role has proven beneficial to Mission Control’s operations as well, as team members become more flexible and more knowledgeable about the entire process.
A command centre’s success, in essence, hinges on the people as much as it is on the technology, a belief shared by Escobar, as he underscores that Mission Control is successful because they had a highly collaborative governance structure. While AdventHealth has a separate IT team supporting the command centre, the project is actually “business-led” in that the core steering committee consists of physicians, business unit leaders, and service line leaders, working in collaboration to accomplish Mission Control’s objectives.