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YOUR HEALTH: How a Mission Control helps you see a doctor quicker

A very different Mission Control that links several hospitals and it's been on-line long before the coronavirus scare

ORLANDO, Fla — A Florida health system opened a 12,000 square foot operations center that uses artificial intelligence to coordinate patient care among its eight hospitals.

It's a "Mission Control" that operates on the same principles of precise timing as you see in the space program, but the goal here is to maximize efficiency in health care.

"We were experiencing patients that were waiting long times in our (Emergency Department)," explained AdventHealth Mission Control executive director Penny Porteous.

There are more than 35 million admissions to American hospitals each year. Nearly half occur through the emergency department.

"We had delays in our procedures and operating rooms because we couldn't get our beds turned over and get them placed into in patient beds."

Now, using new technology developed along with GE Healthcare, a team of nurses, EMS and flight dispatchers and transport technicians man the center, 24 hours a day.

"If you were a patient, the last place you want to be is waiting," she said.

In a control room staffed by professionals, tiny tiles are displayed on monitors, each representing a patient: someone who has been admitted to the emergency department or who will need a bed or a transfer. 

The technology allows staff to see openings in real time across the eight facilities in three Florida counties.

"Instead of being reactive we can be proactive," explained Dr. Sanjay Pattani, the Mission Control's medical director.

Admission to inpatient care requires coordination between physicians, nurses, registration staff, and others. There is a 15% drop in patient satisfaction if wait times rise from 5 minutes to 30. 

Administrators say, so far, Mission Control has enabled the system to drop wait times from admittance to finding a bed by one full hour. 

Instead of turning patients away during peak times, Advent Health admits fifteen more patients a month.

"This is just the beginning, said Dr. Pattani.   "We have started something that will continuously evolve."

Other problems include communication breakdown.

For example, some patients will arrive without physician orders or an advance notice.  That costs extra time as the admissions worker needs to hunt down the paperwork. 

AdventHealth was not the first American hospital to adopt the Mission Control centers. 

Johns Hopkins and Oregon Health Hospital were among the first, and ten other hospital systems will be soon be implementing the command center approach.

If this story has impacted your life or prompted you or someone you know to seek or change treatments, please let us know by contacting Jim Mertens at jim.mertens@wqad.com or Marjorie Bekaert Thomas at mthomas@ivanhoe.com.