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Hospitals and health systems are facing competitive threats from more angles than ever before. From innovative healthcare tech startups to traditional payers making inroads into the provider space, today's threats have multiplied.
For healthcare leaders to ignore them would be at their own peril.
As health systems attempt to pivot toward innovation to fend off a new generation of competitors that seek to dominate specialized pieces of the healthcare continuum, they are burdened with their legacy as high-cost conglomerates that provide everything from high-level ICUs to quick clinics co-located in drugstores.
Many hospitals have capacity constraints. If those constraints are too severe, they can result in serious lost revenue.
To help address this, as well as patient dissatisfaction surrounding transfers, Carilion Clinic, a seven-hospital health system based in Roanoke, Virginia, took over a former patient room in 2009 to handle bed placement and transfer acceptance.
That small control room grew into the new off-campus 24/7 ParkView Mission Control Center that opened in September 2017. Even during its small start, the control room opened the eyes of leadership on the capabilities and possibilities a first-class logistics center could offer.
In fact, the million-dollar center is so important to the health system's efficiency that Nancy Howell Agee, Carilion's president and CEO, likens it to the Johnson Space Center.
"That's what this room looks like, with 20–30 large-screen LCDs with multiple views of beds, and where the [three] helicopters, highways, and ambulances are," she says. "It's the nerve center for flow into, out of, and within the hospitals."
The health system's main quaternary center, 703-bed Carilion Roanoke Memorial, has an average daily census of 90%, "so we're always maxed out," says Agee. "We thought this worked best for the large hospital, but we've extended it to the community hospitals because they're also prioritizing patients coming in and out."
While the top-line technology is impressive, it's the people in the room who are key to the success of the operation, says Melanie Morris, senior director of Carilion's Transfer and Communications Center.
It consists of a transfer center and bed placement center, which handles bed management and transfers for the system's two largest hospitals. It also houses the communications center, which dispatches the helicopter and ambulance fleet.
The Parkview Mission Control Center is staffed by nurses experienced in critical care and organizes the activities of clinical transporters, housekeeping teams, and utilization management professionals.
"That's a lot of moving parts," she says.