Insights (Essays)

Insights (Essays) November 2019

Humber River Hospital Introduces a New Standard of Patient Care for Ontario and the World

Barb Collins


L-R: Jhanvi Solanki, Dr. Susan Tory and Jane Casey in Humber River Hospital’s Command Centre. (CNW Group/Humber River Hospital) 

At Humber River Hospital, patient safety and high reliability healthcare are priorities. The key to advancing that potential for excellent patient-centered care is by uncovering data by the minute from our Command Centre, clinical and operational processes. We can then use that data to identify where we can take even further steps to change the way the healthcare system performs, to deliver an even higher level of care.

Before I became the CEO of Humber River Hospital, I was a nurse for more than 40 years. Seeing the day-to-day processes of many hospitals, I asked myself, “Why aren’t patients being admitted faster? How can we clean that empty bed faster for a patient in need?” And more critically, “How can we ensure that patients who come to the hospital are healthier when they leave?”

Anyone who works in a hospital might ask these questions; however, it wasn’t until I looked outside the healthcare sector that I found some answers.

In 2007, I along with colleagues from Humber River Hospital, saw the Dell Command Centre in Texas. A NASA-style mission control room, the Dell Command Centre could identify a broken computer anywhere in the world and flag the issue to Dell’s front-line staff in the Mission Control room so they could implement an action plan to fix it quickly. At the time, this technology was common in other industries, but not in healthcare. Why not apply that same NASA-style Command Centre to hospitals?

In 2017, we introduced Humber River Hospital’s Command Centre in partnership with GE Healthcare, using real-time operational data to monitor patient flow and make the delivery of care more efficient. It was a step forward in making Humber River Hospital North America’s first fully-digital hospital. That was Phase 1.

We’re now entered Phase 2 of our digital evolution, launching four new clinical analytic applications, or “tiles,” as an important step toward achieving our vision of high reliability healthcare. These new tiles bring together our professional expertise with predictive analytics and standardized early warning systems to provide an added layer of protection for patients with conditions that make them more vulnerable to risks of adverse events or outcomes.

Our Mother and Baby tile alerts front-line staff and physicians in the Obstetrical Unit and the Clinical Expediter in the Command Centre when an expectant mother or newborn is at elevated obstetrical risk. The Early Warning of Deterioration Tile integrates a scoring of physiological measurements specific to the patient, along with other parameters and observations, alerting the team of a potential need for earlier intervention.

Similarly, the Risk of Harm tile is designed to help reduce the likelihood of adverse events for patients who are at an elevated risk of harm, like sepsis. This tile also includes a number of items based on the Registered Nurses’ Association of Ontario (RNAO) best practice guidelines related to falls risk intervention, wound and skin management, pain management and delirium.

A Seniors Care tile is focused on mobility, dietary intake, frequency of ambulation, and medications causing risk with particular emphasis on preventing deterioration that often accompanies hospitalization for this vulnerable population. 

These tiles, displayed on large-screen monitors in our Command Centre, are integrated into the day-to-day delivery of care as a back-stop to support our experienced doctors, nurses, and other clinical staff. By centralizing data in the Command Centre, these new tiles empower our clinicians so that they can intervene even earlier and keep that patient care on track.

But we’re not finished yet. With the shift toward Ontario Health Teams, Phase 3 of this revolution will see Humber River Hospital partnering with community providers and other hospitals to monitor patients staying at home, so we can intervene before they need to admit themselves to the ER. Not every patient in Ontario needs home monitoring, but for families who live far away from a loved one with health issues, knowing that the Command Centre can observe an aspect of that patient’s health will be a huge relief. That is the kind of next-generation innovation we are looking at in Phase 3.

Our new quality tiles show how we can harness the power of data and innovative technology to transform the delivery of healthcare, not only for Humber River Hospital’s patients, but for patients across Ontario and the world. As a leader in the digital transformation of care delivery, we are making our methodology available to hospitals around the world because the only way for healthcare to continuously improve is by building on each other’s successes.

Barbara Collins, President & CEO of Humber River Hospital in the hospital's Command Centre (CNW Group/Humber River Hospital)

About the Author(s)

Barb Collins was appointed the President and CEO of Humber River Hospital (HRH) in July 2016. In her previous role as COO, she served as the Senior Executive Lead for HRH’s redevelopment project, and oversaw the design, construction and activation of HRH’s Wilson Site in October 2015, North America’s first fully digital hospital. This ground-breaking approach to integrating technology across all hospital systems and workflows was shortly followed by the development and implementation of HRH’s Command Centre in November 2017, a first in Canada and second in the world. Ms. Collins is a Registered Nurse with an MBA from Queens University, and over 40 years of progressive leadership experience in all major clinical and support areas in acute care. She is passionate about high reliability and compassionate patient care.


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