Use of Systems Engineering to Design a Hospital Command Center

Erin Kane, James J. Scheulen, Adrian Püttgen, Diego Martinez, Scott Levin, Bree A. Bush, Linda Huffman, Mary Margaret Jacobs, Hetal Rupani, David Thomas Efron

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


Background: In hospitals and health systems across the country, patient flow bottlenecks delay care delivery—emergency department boarding and operating room exit holds are familiar examples. In other industries, such as oil, gas, and air traffic control, command centers proactively manage flow through complex systems. Methods: A systems engineering approach was used to analyze and maximize existing capacity in one health system, which led to the creation of the Judy Reitz Capacity Command Center. This article describes the key elements of this novel health system command center, which include strategic colocation of teams, automated visual displays of real-time data providing a global view, predictive analytics, standard work and rules-based protocols, and a clear chain of command and guiding tenets. Preliminary data are also shared. Results: With proactive capacity management, subcycle times decreased and allowed the health system's flagship hospital to increase occupancy from 85% to 92% while decreasing patient delays. Conclusion: The command center was built with three primary goals—reducing emergency department boarding, eliminating operating room holds, and facilitating transfers in from outside facilities—but the command center infrastructure has the potential to improve hospital operations in many other areas.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)370-379
Number of pages10
JournalJoint Commission Journal on Quality and Patient Safety
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 2019

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Leadership and Management


Dive into the research topics of 'Use of Systems Engineering to Design a Hospital Command Center'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this