Tampa General Hospital in Florida has saved $40 million by reducing operational inefficiencies over the past year, and according to the hospital, the installation of its systemwide command center is the reason for this significant cost saving.

In August 2019, the hospital became the first in Florida to launch the CareComm command center that was developed in partnership with GE Healthcare. The center, which features 20 artificial intelligence apps, video walls with 38 screens, 32 workstations and multiple computer systems, aims to streamline operations and help hospital staff identify bottlenecks that are disrupting care. It is operated by a clinical team that includes physicians, nurses and allied health professionals.

This year, the hospital reported cost savings to tune of $40 million as a result of reducing excess patient days by 20,000. Excess days is how the hospital calculates its savings overall, Dr. Peter Chang, vice president of care transitions at Tampa General Hospital, said in a phone interview.

“We look at the excess days we have been able to eliminate from all of our patients’ [hospital] stays,” he said. “And the way we calculate that number is we look at the geometric mean length of stay, which is published by Medicare for each specific diagnosis group.”

Once a patient is a coded and lands in a specific diagnosis group, the hospital is able to see the average length of stay across all Medicare patients in the group, giving them a target for expected length of stay, he explained. Then there is the observed length of stay, or the actual amount of time a patient spends in the hospital. The difference between the two figures is used to calculate the number of excess days — and each day has a price tag. The price tag includes all the daily costs associated with a patient staying in the hospital like labor costs and non-clinical care costs.

“We don’t want patients staying here any longer than they have to,” Chang said. “But of course, we want our patients to stay here for the appropriate amount of time it takes to heal.”

The hospital reduced excess days by tackling operational inefficiencies, such as the amount of time it takes for tests or other ancillary services to be performed. The command center helped the hospital’s care teams identify breakdowns in care progression and reduce the amount of time patients had to wait for those services, which in turn reduced overall length of stay.

The command center proved especially useful amid the Covid-19 pandemic, Chang said. As the state began to see cases surge over the summer, Tampa General was able to use the command center to keep track of its bed capacity, patient throughput, and formulate a plan for clinical and isolation protocols.

“[The center] was the hub of the Covid-19 effort,” Chang said.

For example, data tools in the command center were used to decide which units in the hospital could be converted into negative pressure rooms for Covid-19 patients, and more recently, which units could be converted back into regular patient care areas as cases slowed.

In addition, the command center team led a daily huddle with leaders across the organization to discuss strategies, share updates and ensure everyone had access to state, county and local information related to the pandemic, Jeff Terry, CEO, clinical command centers at GE Healthcare said via email.

The hospital further leveraged its partnership with GE Healthcare to develop a cloud-based system so that Florida hospitals could share real-time data on Covid-19 hospitalizations and resources. The system helps hospitals collaborate when necessary to manage the ebb and flow of Covid-19 patients. The system may also be used to manage regional responses to future public health challenges, including hurricanes.

Photo: LeoWolfert, Getty Images




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