In Command: The Rise of Command Centers in Healthcare

10 February, 2016

By Geoffrey Martin, MBA, Managing Principal, Chief Operating Officer, and Jeff Terry, MBA, FACHE, Managing Principal, GE Healthcare Partners

Command Centers are commonplace in many industries such as military, space and aviation, government, oil and gas, and broadcast entertainment. But until now, they’ve been a rarity within the healthcare industry. This, however, is quickly changing.

Many GE Healthcare clients in the U.S., U.K., Brazil, Canada, and Australia are considering the idea, and some are investing. GE Healthcare Partners is helping several hospitals shape and realize their Command Center visions.

While project names vary (Command Center, Command Centre, Operations Room, Situation Room, Control Center) the concept and objectives are similar.

  • Concept: Concentrate operational decision-makers and equip them with Real Time decision support tools to enable better and faster decisions.
  • Objective: Enable a new level of efficiency, visibility and integration measured in outcomes, utilization, patient waiting, staff satisfaction, length-of-stay, and cost.

Concentrate Decision Makers

Coordinating the care of hundreds of patients through dozens of steps in thousands of pathways is immensely complex; perhaps the most operationally complex human endeavor.

Functions must constantly coordinate physicians, nurses, bed managers, transport, housekeeping, case management, outbound patient placement, social work, inbound patient placement, admitting, roaming services, periop, and cardiology.

GE Healthcare’s work has shown that co-locating key functions can improve coordination. But which functions and with whom? How should the functions evolve in a new setting? How do these functions interact with each other, with other units and departments, and with other, external facilities?

Consider a command center as a visible investment in your hospital’s next-level integration.

The rendering below illustrates a fully-equipped command center, complete with a centralized Wall of Analytics and stations constructed for:Command Center

  • Bed managers
  • EVS coordinators
  • Transfer leaders
  • Operating Room schedulers
  • Transport coordinators
  • Staffing coordinators
  • Command Room supervisor

Real Time Decision Support

There is no shortage of information technology in hospitals. But we all know the flood of dashboards and email alerts are too often retrospective, too complicated, or miss the point entirely. The challenge is that “doing better” is extraordinarily hard. It forces us to ask the question: What information, in what format, would be useful to whom at what moment to make a difference to what problem? Not easy to answer systemically--and what about the benefits of predictive information? 

How to Make it Happen?

GE Healthcare approaches command center design from a “problem-back” perspective:

  1. Start with problems
  2. Fixate on them
  3. Get stakeholders aligned with them

This is hard to do.

Once the staff is aligned, start designing. GE Healthcare leads clients through an energetic collaborative process to design the space (lighting, acoustics, ergonomics, location), staff (which functions/what roles?), Wall of Analytics™ (predictive simple information in Real Time to create awareness and impact the problems) and IPOM (the interactions, procedures and operating mechanisms of the center). Then we help clients build it, launch it and make a difference.

Start to finish, the process takes between 12-18 months, including construction. This a major investment with a major return for patients and the institution.

GE’s Command Center Experience

GE operates approximately 25 command centers worldwide to manage its energy, rail, healthcare and aviation operations. For example, GE’s energy command center outside Atlanta, Georgia monitors the performance of more than 3,700 gas turbines around the world 24x7, and GE Healthcare’s InSite™ command center outside Milwaukee monitors >10,000 GE CT and MR scanners around the clock.

Moreover, GE Healthcare Command Center along with GE Healthcare Productivity Solutions has experience imagining, designing and building hospital command centers.

Related Content

5 Things to Get Right in Your Hospital Command Center


Mr. Martin is Managing Principal and Chief Executive Officer with GE Healthcare Partners. Mr. Martin specializes in the areas of hospital operations, process improvement, and the use of advanced analytics to develop innovative solutions. He also has extensive experience in strategy development, care design, population health development, value management, and large scale technology implementations. Mr. Martin has worked with leading academic medical centers and large integrated delivery networks across the country to improve clinical, financial, and operational performance. He may be reached at

Jeff_Terry.jpgMr. Terry is a Managing Principal of GE Healthcare Partners. GE Healthcare Partners' capabilities include management consulting, mobilizing change, technology integration and advanced analytics.
He has a diverse background in consulting, sales, product development, Lean Six Sigma, business strategy, and services. Areas of focus have included clinical asset management, patient safety, patient flow, hospital operations, radiology and advanced analytics. He may be reached at or 212-613-2137.