Operational Command Centers - Cover

Operational Command Centers

New and better technology is popping up everywhere, but all of the tools can be a lot to handle and coordinate. Many healthcare organizations—particularly large health systems with numerous facilities and software solutions—are implementing an old idea in a new way: operational command centers.

If that name makes you think of mission control at NASA or air traffic control at an airport, you’re not far off track. But users of operational command centers aren’t directing spaceships or airplanes—they’re directing data and patients.

In 2018, KLAS researched operational command centers by interviewing several of the most successful customers from seven different vendors. We then complied a few highlights of these providers’ experiences. I’d like to share a few highlights of our unique report published in December.

How Do They Work?

Let’s start with what operational command centers look like and do. Most exist in a single space with monitors, dashboards, and of course the providers and dispatchers who use them. This physical closeness maximizes communication.

Operational command center

Operational Command Centers can connect multiple departments within a single hospital or multiple facilities within a health system. Some of the technology pieces most commonly used under the umbrella of operational command centers include:

  • Patient flow/bed management
  • Transfer center tools
  • ED systems
  • Core EMR capabilities
  • Staffing/scheduling tools
  • Communication/alerting tools

Real-time and predictive analytics are aggregated from these and other systems. The analytics are then used to manage logistics and capacity management, provide enterprise visibility, and improve general coordination.

What Is the Vendor’s Role?

Different vendors handle Operational command centers differently. For instance, EMR vendors (such as Cerner and Epic) focus on leveraging capabilities from their own core EMR.

A couple of vendors aggregate data from customers’ existing systems without basing the command center on their own technology. GE healthcare is the most well-known example.

Most vendors, however, implement their own patient flow or transfer center software and/or aggregate data from various other systems. These vendors include Care Logistics, Central Logic, Change Healthcare, and TeleTracking.

Vendors’ approaches to post-implementation support also vary. Providers told KLAS that continual guidance from vendors is not just beneficial—it’s critical. The healthcare organizations that received the most ongoing help from their vendors reported more positive outcomes.

reported outcomes vs vendor contributions

Clearly, providers implementing operational command centers should make sure the vendor they choose can meet their expectations. You can read more details about vendors’ respective offerings in KLAS’ report.

What Are the Outcomes?

Some HIT leaders probably wonder whether operational command centers are worth the time, money, and effort required to implement them. The answer will differ between organizations. However, the many success stories littering the internet and some specifics from KLAS’ recent research are encouraging.

Organizations that have implemented an operational command center told KLAS about several positive outcomes of the technology. Of the organizations KLAS interviewed:

  • 96% reported improved patient flow
  • 74% reported improved patient experience
  • 65% reported improved staff experience
  • 61% reported actionable and transparent data

These added efficiencies and enhancements don’t just sound impressive—they also tend to decrease costs. That may be why, in addition, 78% of the organizations reported financial gains from using operational command centers.

A Tool to Watch

As usual, KLAS research answers some questions and brings up new ones. Could operational command centers be the tool that simplifies the increasingly complex web of technology in hospitals? How many organizations will take advantage of them in the next several years? How will vendors improve their offerings?

KLAS will continue our search for answers. No matter what time and our research yield, I look forward to watching what else vendors and providers will do with operational command centers.