NASA-like Command Centers are Coming to Hospitals

20 June, 2016 - John Flannery, President and CEO at GE Healthcare

I often ask those who work in other fields how they view healthcare. Do they see an industry rife with cost challenges and complexity? Do they wonder why we want to be a part of it?

They wouldn’t be wrong, but I wouldn’t choose any other job.

Yes, the volume of patients needing care is rapidly increasing, but so is the data available to make decisions about that care. Resistant diseases are smarter, but advanced technology and medicines are outsmarting those diseases.

Managing a hospital is more complex today, but building a digital and analytics infrastructure to manage these logistics is more possible than yesterday.

I saw this in action at The Johns Hopkins Hospital (JHH) this month. In the center of their campus in Baltimore, Maryland is a room with walls made of 22 high resolution screens. Numbers, charts and live video flash across them.

The hospital staff flows in and out, scanning the screens and making quick decisions based on what they see. It’s what I imagine the inside of NASA might look like before a rocket launch – in fact, JHH calls it their Capacity Command Center. From here – the first predictive patient-experience control center – the staff is running their hospital with the help of a new source: predictive analytics.

One app on these screens uses a digital-twin of the hospital to predict patient activity for the next 48 hours. Another algorithm tells the staff which room turn or patient discharge would reduce wait time. Yet another senses when pressure on a unit is nearing a dangerous situation for patient care, a rare but critical measure.

When JHH, one of the leading health institutions, told the GE Healthcare Partners team that high demand was challenging their capacity to see more patients, we worked alongside the hospital staff to find a holistic solution. In this case, it was the Capacity Command Center, including GE custom-built software that could transform how they manage operations.

Back to my earlier questions: such transformations let a business like us seize the opportunity to be more than a technology provider. Because of our scale and reach, we work with healthcare providers of all shapes and sizes across the world, from Baltimore to Bangalore, to solve similar challenges.

We have an obligation to use that vantage point to find and share solutions that work. To be a leading ideas provider.

For a 124-year old startup like GE, it’s an exciting time when we can adapt to what the world needs.

For patients, it promises to be a welcome improvement of less wait time and improved care. For clinicians, it can mean more time freed up to focus on those patients.

And if you ever want to meet people in healthcare who would never change what they do, speak with these clinicians, the care teams who work tirelessly, NASA-like Command Center or not, to help others get better.

Who wouldn’t want to be a part of that? That’s reason #2.

bio_Flannery.jpgJohn Flannery is the President and CEO of GE Healthcare, an $18 billion business unit of General Electric that provides transformational medical technologies and solutions to the global healthcare industry. GE Healthcare supports customers in over 100 countries with a broad range of services and systems, from diagnostic imaging and healthcare IT through to molecular diagnostics and life-sciences. John was appointed to his current role in October 2014.