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by Curtis Krueger on Tuesday August 20, 2019
Florida governor tours TGH’s innovative new “Mission Control”

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis and more than 150 others toured Tampa General Hospital’s CareComm on Tuesday to see firsthand how the clinical command center uses artificial intelligence and predictive analytics to improve and better coordinate patient care at a lower cost.

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis attended and said he was impressed by the innovation.

“If you had told me we were in Kennedy Space Center in there, I probably would have believed you,” the governor said.  He said TGH staff had explained how CareComm helps different hospital departments collaborate and avoid communications silos. “They’ve broken down all these barriers and are able to achieve efficiencies and I think that’s great.”

 "CareComm is a new center at Tampa General Hospital that harnesses technology and ingenuity to further improve healthcare,” DeSantis said. “Ensuring Floridians have access to higher quality and more affordable healthcare has been a priority of my administration. I look forward to seeing CareComm’s impact in the Tampa Bay Community.”

TGH President and CEO John Couris said, “CareComm is a huge step in our journey to become the safest and most innovative academic health system in the country. We’re grateful to our physicians, nurses, staff, and our GE Healthcare partners for helping us leverage technology to drive quality up and costs down. This means better care and lower costs for patients.”

CareComm operates in an  8,000 square foot center on the second floor of the hospital’s East Pavilion.

The new center features 38 large screens that make up a “wall of analytics,” as well as 20 artificial intelligence apps, 32 work stations, multiple computer systems and a multi-disciplinary clinical team that includes doctors, nurses, and allied health professionals. Although it is sometimes called the hospital’s “mission control,” it works by helping TGH team members collaborate.

CareComm staff use these resources to predict the needs of patients and team members before they arise. With CareComm, Tampa General can anticipate potential roadblocks and issues in the care process, ensuring that rooms, equipment and medical professionals will be available for patients as soon as they’re needed.

The center will improve quality while decreasing costs, Couris said.

CareComm’s temporary facility, open since December, already has helped TGH reduce the average patient’s length of stay in the hospital by about half a day. This creates a better experience for patients who are ready to leave the hospital, and also allows new patients to get to their rooms sooner. Reducing such inefficiencies has saved about $10 million – savings that ultimately benefit staff and patients.

All this data and analysis is focused on one goal – providing world-class care to patients in a more efficient way.

“CareComm helps us ensure that each patient gets the best possible care right when they need it,” said Dr. Pete Chang, vice president of Care Transitions. “Because our CareComm team is focusing on smoothing each patient’s journey through the hospital, our clinical team at the bedside has more time to spend with the patient.” 

Why are these changes important? It’s all about improving the care to patients – and improving their health outcomes.

Getting patients connected with nurses, doctors and hospital rooms at the soonest possible time often improves their care.  “We all know the earlier you treat someone, the better the outcome is, generally speaking,” Chang said.

The coordination provided by CareComm also has enabled TGH to open the new Departure Lounge to further improve patients’ experience and patient flow. Instead of waiting in their hospital rooms to receive their take-home medicine or for their rides home, patients are now able to go to the lounge. It has comfortable chairs, televisions, wi-fi, plus free coffee and snacks. This allows patients to wait in a friendly and comfortable atmosphere, and it also opens up hospital beds sooner for those with acute needs.

Many TGH team members joined Florida elected officials and outside VIPs on Tuesday for the unveiling of CareComm. Guests who attended included:

Guests included state Sen. Darryl Rouson; state Reps Jamie Grant, Susan Valdes and Jennifer Webb; and Tampa City Council members Charlie Miranda, Orlando Gudes and Joseph Citro.

”CareComm is the kind of innovation that Tampa General stands for,” Couris said. “Our commitment is to design a system that creates a sustainable and reproducible way to drive up the quality of care and lower costs. We want to pass this value on to the patients, the payors, and the employers, creating a less expensive delivery model for health care in our state.”