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Humber River Hospital’s NEW Command Centre

Blogs from our Experts 


Jane Casey – Command Centre, Director - Blog #4

Jane Casey

With winter season upon us, hospitals throughout Ontario are bracing for a ‘capacity crunch’. Winter is traditionally the busiest time of year for emergency departments (ED) with the flu season bringing in peaks of demand for urgent care. Wait times escalate during this time, pushing hospitals to make the most efficient possible use of their available resources.


At Humber River Hospital, busy flu seasons have caused ED visits to increase by more than 20 patients per day. This not only pressures the ED, but also other departments and functions across the hospital, as more and more patients need access to physician and nursing care, inpatient beds, diagnostic imaging, lab tests, patient transport, housekeeping services, medications and many other services. Each one of these areas is faced with physical and staffing constraints, and continuously makes prioritization decisions to try keep things running smoothly.


This flu season, Humber’s Command Centre is able to support care teams in synchronizing and prioritizing care activities. Real-time information from across many systems is harmonized, processed and presented to staff in the Command Centre to prompt and guide action. For example, if the only activity standing in the way of a patient being discharged from a high demand inpatient unit is an imaging exam, real-time alerts coordinate care teams to prioritize the exam, expedite the discharge and accelerate the bed clean. These actions, each taken by a different team, are orchestrated by Command Centre staff enabled by analytical tiles that make delays and risks visible, often before they happen.


Humber is excited to have this new second level capability to help the hospital care teams manage through flu season in a whole new way not possible before. 


Zahava Uddin – Director, GE Healthcare Partners - Blog #3

Jane Casey

For most patients in the hospital and their family members, what they see and experience barely scratches the surface of what goes on behind the scenes every single day. This is much the same for passengers travelling through an airport.


In fact, hospitals and airports have quite a few things in common. They are both busy, complex and dynamic environments where the safety of human lives is mission critical. Whereas hospitals operate with a fixed number of inpatient beds and operating rooms, airports have a fixed airspace, number of runways and number of terminal gates to work with. Whereas patient arrivals and departures peak (often predictably) at certain times during the day, the week and the year, so do airplane and passenger arrivals and departures. Patient type and how physicians practice varies significantly, as does the type of plane, the weather and how pilots practice. Furthermore, both hospitals and airports must be highly reliable in that they must operate safely and effectively at high levels of occupancy and they must be adept at handling emergencies.


The means by which air traffic flow remains constant and safe at Toronto Pearson Airport, which ranks 18th in the world by aircraft volume, is a single control tower that is situated above five main runways and 30 taxiways. [Over 40,000 employees work in concert throughout Toronto Pearson Airport to handle 450,000 flights each year and keep 45 million plus passengers moving, safe and satisfied]. Air traffic controllers are supported by sophisticated systems and technology that enable them to coordinate and perform various functions including tracking flights, providing pilots approaching and departing the airport with clearances and instructions to help them maintain separation from other aircraft, providing flight information to aircraft operating in the airspace around the airport and monitoring aircraft on the ground.


Humber River Hospital is launching its Command Centre next month with much the same intent - utilizing available capacity the best way possible while ensuring the highest levels of quality and safety for its patients. Fasten your seatbelts! 


Jane Casey – Command Centre, Director - Blog #2

Jane CaseyI’ve worked within the acute care setting for many years. One thing I’ve frequently noticed as a health care professional is that we are often running from one crisis event to another, trying to fix unexpected issues that have arisen. It becomes almost routine to see colleagues race down the halls to “put out fires”, whether that be dealing with unexpected volume in Medicine, or infections or complications from treatment.However, due to the fast paced nature of a hospital, we are only able to debrief on what could have been done differently after the situation has passed. 


How will our Command Centre at Humber River change all that? We will now be capturing data in real-time on each aspect of hospital care – for example, which diagnostic tests and consults are standing in between a patient and their discharge, the amount of time patients across the hospital are waiting for an inpatient bed assignment or transfer, whether a patient is a repeat visitor to the ED and so on. This data will be mined from multiple hospital systems, mixed together and run through algorithms so that it can be fed to a cross-departmental team in way that is meaningful and that drives action. This team will advise, move around resources and avoid crises by intervening early when issues are first spotted and alerted.With our new capability, we will work to reduce the aspect of “unexpected” that is prevalent in any busy acute care hospital. In addition, the Command Centre team will have a precise, hospital-wide view of the demand for beds, porters, housekeeping and other support services over the 48 hours that lie ahead such that it can take action proactively (e.g. reorganize staffing) to prevent bottlenecks from happening.


These abilities – problem-solving together as a cross-functional team, allocating resources in real-time and proactively dealing with issues before they become serious - will enable Humber River Hospital to be a leader in the delivery of excellent patient care, at the highest levels that our patients deserve.


Barb Collins, President & CEO - Blog #1

Everything we do at Humber River Hospital is done with the ultimate goal of improving patient outcomes and patient care. As North America’s first digital hospital we are in a privileged position to push the envelope when it comes to embracing innovative technology and available data in ways other hospitals cannot. For this reason, I’m incredibly pleased to announce that Humber River Hospital is embarking on yet another first- the implementation of a ground-breaking Command Centre, developed in partnership with GE Healthcare Partners - it is the first of its kind in Canada and only second in the world.


Not unlike airports, hospitals depend on the smooth operation of a number of moving parts. These could include different departments, staff, physicians or support services and all work to ensure that a patient’s interaction with the hospital, however brief or prolonged, results in the best possible outcomes for the patient and their caregivers. However, airports have air traffic control to support their operations and hospitals do not traditionally have such a function...until now. Humber River Hospital’s Command Centre, which will launch on November 30th, will fill that gap. Using complex algorithms, predictive analytics and cutting edge engineering combined with the technical expertise of staff from a number of different departments of the hospital, we will work together to improve processes (e.g patient discharge), clear bottlenecks (e.g. patients in emergency waiting for transfer to an inpatient bed) , support decision-making, re-allocate resources (e.g. cleaning staff) to where they are most needed and flag potential issues to improve the safety, reliability and the quality of care that we deliver. Physicians and care staff will be better supported through the Command Centre and will be able to focus their efforts and time on delivering excellent care and the result will be that our patients will be better served.


Want to learn more on how the Command Centre will support patient care? Come back as we continue to share information on this exciting initiative.




Patient Care Reinvented.