Disaster events and other emergencies can pose communication challenges for essential hospitals, which operate with limited resources. To streamline communication, association member Broward Health, in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., opened a Patient Logistics Center (PLC) in August 2018.
The PLC manages bed placements, admissions from primary and specialty care clinics, and transfers — including both inbound transfers and outbound transfers to long-term care and skilled nursing facilities — using Teletracking, patient flow software that works with the electronic health record (EHR) to track patient status.
“Every hospital has a bed control and a way to receive transfer calls,” says Paul Taber, MBA, RN, director of the PLC. “What Broward Health has done is we’ve developed a command center module, we are a command center, so we have a 360-degree view of all four of our facilities at one time . . . If one of them is getting overcrowded, we can work to either determine if we can send patients to another hospital to care for those patients, or to identify potential discharges from a larger outside point of view.”
The hurricane-proof PLC, adjacent to Broward Health Medical Center, houses a team of 22, including registered nurses, case managers, and nonclinical staff.
The TeleTracking software triages patients; identifies a community hospital to which a patient might be sent in the event of overcrowding or evacuation; indicates an emergency management service (EMS) responsible for transport; and captures patient status.
“That’s the beauty of a command center, is having that total visibility of where you can send that patient at a moment’s notice, knowing your capability, one, and two, your capacity to take that patient,” Taber says.
Broward leaders monitor 10 quality metrics that measure the time to assess the patient and complete transfers. They anticipate that the command center will expedite patient transfers, decrease time LWOT (left without treatment), and improve patient outcomes.
“They were spending, on average — just communicating between hospitals — more than an hour, so they are able to streamline and automate the process through the platform,” says Bill Griffith, MBA, assistant vice president of integration and standardization at Broward Health.
Now that hurricane season has arrived, Broward leaders hope the PLC will play a vital role in centralizing communication, especially in disaster events. The health system worked with Broward County EMS, local ambulance services, and community hospital partners to simulate critical care transfers and transfers to other facilities, showing that essential hospitals, as always, are ready for the worst.