GE launches hospital capacity management system

3 June 2011

GE Healthcare Performance Solutions has introduced Patient Care Capacity Management (PCCM), a new system aimed at solving the poor hospital utilization and ineffective capacity management.

Today, hospitals are being forced to do more with less, driving leaders to seek solutions that will allow them to improve efficiencies while delivering better care to more patients — safely and sustainably.

St Luke’s Episcopal Hospital (SLEH), an 864-bed tertiary care teaching institution located in Houston, Texas, is the first health system to further expand the PCCM solution, originally piloted in partnership with New York City’s The Mount Sinai Medical Center. Combining advisory services, technology, governance strategies, and GE operational methodologies, the PCCM solution will enable SLEH to achieve utilization rates well above the current hospital industry average.

“Hospitals and healthcare systems around the world are under pressure to better align their current capacity with demand in order to drive efficient, high-quality patient care,” said Jan De Witte, president and CEO, GE Healthcare Performance Solutions and GE Healthcare IT.

“We have worked with hospitals worldwide on various departmental operational transformation projects, but addressing enterprise-wide optimization is what the PCCM solution aims to tackle. In order to drive enterprise-wide success and sustainability, you need deep tool sets, intellectual property and technology that can take into account the complexity of all the interdependent departments and variability. We, at GE, are confident in our ability to help hospitals operate in a more efficient, safe and sustainable way.”

St Luke’s Episcopal Hospital (SLEH)

GE will work with SLEH to improve capacity management across its health system, better manage patient length of stay, and improve staff satisfaction. In order to accomplish this, SLEH will undergo an entire hospital transformation that requires strategic planning and technology, which will result in operational changes within the OR, inpatient care units, emergency, cath lab and radiology departments. GE began the engagement in March 2011 and will work toward completion in 2012. At the end of the engagement, it is estimated that SLEH will realize a potential savings of more than $10 million.

“In today’s healthcare environment, caregivers are often burdened by operational inefficiencies. We’re entering an era where capacity management is becoming one of the biggest challenges faced by hospitals and health systems—clinically, operationally and financially,” said Margaret M. Van Bree, DrPH, chief executive officer, SLEH, and senior vice president, St. Luke’s Episcopal Health System Corporation.

“Our goal with GE Healthcare Performance Solutions is to remove this burden from our clinicians, allowing them to dedicate more time to patients. St. Luke’s has a storied history of clinical innovation and excellence, and this collaboration will further enhance the hospital’s delivery of high-quality, cost-effective healthcare.”

Industry capacity management challenges

Most hospitals around the globe — approximately 70% — operate at underutilized levels of occupancy but feel full because of enterprise-wide inefficiencies. Highly utilized hospitals — approximately 30% — currently operate at very high occupancy, but in many cases their current operations may not permit them to serve more patients or grow.

More than 70% of hospital costs are typically fixed, suggesting the potential for significant cost savings, if resources could be better managed. Obstacles including lack of integration between departments, limited access to real-time data, variations in care models and governance shortfalls are among the reasons why so few hospitals currently operate above the 80 percent utilization mark.

“The public debate about rising healthcare costs often misses the fundamental point, that most hospitals presently face daunting financial and operational challenges and generate very small operating margins,” Wayne Keathley, president and COO, The Mount Sinai Hospital.

“Healthcare reform will put even more pressure on hospitals to improve efficiency. We must leverage infrastructure and resources to provide higher quality care while controlling costs and making prudent capital investments. Our work with GE has positioned us to better manage patient flow, capacity and demand for services in a more efficient, safer and sustainable manner. We believe that busy is the “new normal” and that hospitals will need to squeeze every ounce of value out of its infrastructure. The sophisticated system and tools that we have employed with GE makes that possible.”

Patient Care Capacity Management

GE Healthcare’s PCCM global solution provides an integrated approach that involves capacity strategy, new technology and improved operations. GE has deep expertise with the various elements that make-up the PCCM solution in the United States, UK, France and Saudi Arabia, enabling hospitals to operate safely and sustainably at optimal occupancy. To date, GE has completed over 80 operational transformation projects worldwide. The PCCM solution involves several GE capabilities which involve articulating a capacity strategy, deploying technology and delivering operations with patient flow analysis.

(1) Capacity Strategy: The goal of articulating a Capacity Strategy is to reduce variation and drive consistency through simulation modeling, identify bottlenecks and optimize critical activities. Modeling enables hospitals to test scenarios such as opening and closing capacity for operating rooms and the reduction in patient flow variation through redistributing daily discharge and admission times.

(2) Technology: It’s essential that leaders across the organization have the same view of reality within the hospital. In order to accomplish this, GE Healthcare Performance Solutions deploys AgileTrac, an operational software system that serves as the “air-traffic-control system” for the hospital. It allows organizations to track staff, patients and equipment so that process flow information is available in real-time.

(3) Operations: Operational transformation activities are launched to achieve the goals of the Capacity Strategy. The operational transformation includes a reduction in the variation of surgical services, an alignment of unit capacity, an integration of technologies and workflows, and the creation of governance.

The PCCM solution has been developed to address the global healthcare industry needs. It is first being launched in the United States but will be introduced into the global markets over the course of the next year.


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