Tampa General unveils NASA-style CommCenter

In the month marking the 50th anniversary of the Moon landing, Tampa General Hospital has unveiled a NASA-style mission command center of its own.

Developed in partnership with GE Healthcare, TGH’s CareComm center uses artificial intelligence and predictive analytics in an effort to improve care and lower costs.

CareComm features 20 artificial intelligence apps, video walls with 38 large screens, 32 work stations, multiple computer systems, and a multi-disciplinary clinical team of doctors, nurses, and allied health professionals.

Dr. Peter Chang, the vice president of Care Transitions at TGH, says the center will give the hospital care team real-time data and information on the hospital system, individual departments, and the care of individual patients.

That will help monitor bed flow through the hospital to ensure patients get timely care and help departments such as radiology prioritize to get patients needed tests.

“We’re looking at the hospital system on one level, departments on another level, and then to individual patients to use that artificial intelligence and predictive analytics to identify and review processes earlier, and intervene and get patients on a pathway to treatment,” Chang says. "And early treatment leads to better outcomes.”

TGH is the fourth hospital in the world to partner with GE Healthcare on a command center. Chang says a former chief technology officer came up with the idea under a prior hospital administration but it did not gain traction. When Chang brought the proposal back up, current President and CEO John Couris fully backed the plan.

TGH opened a temporary command center in December to immediately take advantage of efficiencies while the permanent center was under construction

Hospital officials say that reduces the average patient’s hospital stay by approximately half a day, improving the experience of patients who are ready to leave and also allowing new patients to get to rooms sooner. Reducing those types of inefficiencies has saved about $10 million already, according to the hospital.

“The real-time information and insights are extremely valuable,” Chang says. "Before we would have to rely on someone telling us that information or be calling or texting someone for that information. Now, information that I would spent a couple of minutes hunting around to get, I can get in a matter of seconds by looking at one of the screens in the command center.”

TGH celebrated the opening of the 8,000-square-foot center with a ceremony attended by Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis and other public and private leaders.''

"If you had told me we were in Kennedy Space Center in there, I probably would have believed you,'' DeSantis says in a news release.

Moving forward, Chang says TGH wants to expand the reach of the CommCenter beyond the hospital to monitor patients at home and treat them at home with telemetry and data brought into the command center. The hospital will also integrate telehealth visits into the command center, working to reduce the need for in-person appointments and costly readmissions.

“The center is great,” Chang says. “The technology is really nice to have, but the spark behind the innovation is really the team and the re-engineering going on behind the scenes. Giving the team insights and information that they never had this kind of immediate access to before is a huge win for the organization. As we evolve and really bake in those predictive models, that’s the thing that has me most excited. We’ll be able to provide the best world-class care that’s possible right here.”

Tampa General serves as the main teaching hospital for the University of South Florida's Morsani College of Medicine and Heart Institute, which will soon open a new academic center in downtown Tampa.

For more information go to these links: Tampa General Hospital, GE Healthcare, Morsani College of Medicine at USF.

Read more articles by Christopher Curry.

Chris Curry is a freelance writer living in Clearwater. Chris spent more than 15 years as a newspaper reporter, primarily in Ocala and Gainesville, before moving back home to the Tampa Bay Area. He enjoys our local music scene, great weather and the wealth of outdoor festivals.
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