The value of data in informing health care decision-making cannot be overstated. From the highest levels of government policy-making to the front-line staff who deal directly with patients, information is critical.

Recently, facilities have taken on ambitious projects to collect and use real-time data, with the goal of making patient flow more efficient, reducing wait times and, as a result, improving patient care.

Humber River Hospital

Launched in December 2017, the command centre at Toronto’s Humber River Hospital represents the marriage of technology and timeliness.

The 4,500-square-foot command centre features a wall of 22 constantly updating screens, measuring everything from bed availability to housekeeping. Existing staff work from the command centre, addressing capacity, safety, quality and wait time issues that have preoccupied hospitals across Canada.

“The command centre allows us to look at the whole hospital,” said Jane Casey, Humber River’s command centre director. “The value of data is not just in the data itself, it’s how that data is used.”

Staff use the data that flows constantly into Humber River Hospital’s command centre to address patient flowStaff use the data that flows constantly into Humber River Hospital’s command centre to address patient flow. (Photo credit: Humber River Hospital)

Casey recalls an example of how having information from all facets of the hospital at her fingertips helped improve one patient’s experience.

A family of 15 was in the emergency department, visiting their dying relative. With an ambulance on the way, the relative needed to be moved to accommodate an incoming trauma patient. The new room would be too small for the large family to remain by their relative’s side and the potential separation was being contested by the family.

“I could find a room on my tablet that was empty but not ready for another patient,” Casey said. “Through the command centre, I could see where housekeeping was and re-route them to this room on the 8th floor that was big enough for everyone to stay with him.”

Within minutes, the patient and his loved ones were moved successfully and the ED bed was ready for the next emergency patient.

Next up for Humber River Hospital’s command centre: an increased focus on quality experience and home monitoring.

Windsor Regional Hospital

At Windsor Regional Hospital, the Patient Flow Improvement Project Command Centre was developed with more analogue techniques, but with the same goal: increasing efficiency in patient flow to address hospital wait times for their medical patients.

Windsor Regional Hospital staff meet twice a day to see what has been happening at the hospital and predict potential issues. Windsor Regional Hospital staff meet twice a day to see what has been happening at the hospital and predict potential issues. (Photo credit: Windsor Regional Hospital)

“Our command centre is almost 85% paper-based,” said Windsor Regional Hospital’s chief nursing executive Karen McCullough. “We have information flowing through into a perfect paper process. Now we’re working to digitize the information and replicate the process digitally.”

The Windsor Regional Hospital team went over 2 years of paper charts to help identify how many beds are needed for the patient load.

Comparing their command centre to an air-traffic control room, McCullough touts the early returns in reducing wait times from triage to admission to a hospital bed. 10 weeks after implementing the command centre, that wait time dropped from 11 hours to 4.3 hours at one site and 6.2 hours at the other.

Both sites of the Windsor Regional Hospital have an identical room, requiring their processes to be consistent.

“Both sites, across all units, do everything the same,” McCullough said. “Twice a day, staff gather at the 2 campuses to discuss what’s happened since the last meeting and what is going to happen before the next meeting.”

With their process now established for medical patients, the Windsor Regional team will next set its sights on applying this process to the surgical program.

CIHI

Health system data is the foundation upon which CIHI is built.

We provide comparable and actionable data and information that are used to accelerate improvements in health care, health system performance and population health across Canada.

Our stakeholders use our broad range of health system databases, measurements and standards, together with our evidence-based reports and analyses, in their decision-making processes.

Using CIHI data as benchmarks, facilities across the country can identify areas for improvement and, combined with real-time internal data like we see in these command centres, take action to improve patient experience.