CHI Franciscan's AI-fueled Mission Control Center reaps enormous wins

The Mission Control team has created 1,423 additional days to care for more patients, expedited treatment for 142 critical care patients, maintained a 10% reduction in bed request turnaround times and enabled 561 patients to leave more quickly.
By Bill Siwicki
11:44 AM

CHI Franciscan's Mission Control Command Center bullpen

CHI Franciscan, the Pacific Northwest Division of CommonSpirit Health, consists of 12 hospitals with more than 12,000 employees – including over 8,000 providers and nurses, more than 200 primary and specialty care clinics, and a clinically integrated network with over 5,000 providers. The 1,300-bed health system, one of the largest in Washington state, sees nearly 325,000 emergency department visits and more than 300,000 inpatient days each year.


In August 2019, six months before the pandemic hit, CHI Franciscan partnered with GE Healthcare to launch the state's first Mission Control Command Center to enhance patient safety, seamlessly manage patient flow, schedule procedures, and ultimately get patients home sooner.

Inspired by NASA, CHI Franciscan's Mission Control houses an 18-screen video wall with 11 data-rich analytic "tiles," or apps, that provide actionable, real-time data from each hospital. Using AI algorithms to identify potential issues in real time, Mission Control allows care teams to synchronize all elements of a patient's hospital experience, proactively solving problems to improve care rather than react when issues arise, said Ketul Patel, CEO of CHI Franciscan.

"CHI Franciscan's foresight with Mission Control helped it manage critical elements during an unprecedented pandemic when Washington became one of the country's first epicenters for the COVID-19 outbreak in February 2020," Patel noted.

"Challenged with managing the quickly evolving situation, CHI Franciscan needed a full picture of capacity and resources available across the system – including critical staff, inpatient beds and ventilators – as well as real-time intelligence on COVID-19-positive and suspected COVID-19-positive patients at all facilities."


Mission Control was a critical part of CHI Franciscan's COVID-19 response. Through Mission Control, the hospitals could:

  • Expedite care for potential COVID-19 cases quickly and safely.
  • Track and share the level of critical resources such as ventilators available across the system in real time.
  • Monitor bed availability, including intensive care unit beds and negative airflow rooms – the highest standard recommended by the CDC to limit COVID-19 transmission.
  • Track every at-risk patient to ensure they were in the safest location possible, and to avoid contact with other patients.
  • Provide staff with all the information available on patients so they were prepared and could use the necessary PPE and other precautions.
  • Manage staffing across the system and reallocate staff to meet system-wide needs.

Four of the 11 data-rich tiles include:

Capacity Snapshot – Updated every 30 seconds, this tile gives a birds-eye view of capacity throughout the entire system, including the ability to drill down to specific units in individual hospitals. Real-time access to the full picture allows for better care coordination and improved patient flow to increase much-needed capacity.

"Through Mission Control, CHI Franciscan team members were able to make higher quality and faster decisions with real-time information and visibility into operations across all sites."

Ketul Patel, CHI Franciscan

Infectious Disease – Designed to specifically help support providers managing the COVID-19 virus. The tile identifies positive COVID-19 patients and ensures they are treated in specialized beds to maximize resources and enhance patient and provider safety. The tile also analyzes previous COVID-19 trends and can predict cases 48 hours in advance to ensure patients are matched with critical resources – detecting various risks and opportunities in real time.

Discharge Planning – Empowers multidisciplinary teams across the health system by providing a more effective tool to discuss patient care and identify and resolve barriers to discharge. This tool is aimed at ensuring that patients who are able to leave the hospital can do so more quickly, freeing up the critical space for other individuals.

AI-powered Census Forecast – Predicts hourly census and occupancy up to the next seven days to better manage flow, facilitate capacity across the health system, and make optimal staffing decisions.


"Mission Control and the additional solutions have been a critical part of CHI Franciscan's COVID-19 response," Patel stated. "Through Mission Control, CHI Franciscan team members were able to make higher-quality and faster decisions with real-time information and visibility into operations across all sites.

"The integrated platform, which consolidates and standardizes data in one central place, provides key information on items like patients boarding in EDs and PACUs, delays in care related to labs or imaging, and patients in the various stages of transferring across the health system," Patel continued.

Once the pandemic started, staff were able to more closely monitor confirmed or suspected COVID-19 patients, allowing staff to understand capabilities for creating new negative-pressure isolation rooms, he added.

"The Mission Control Center also allowed us to track vital changes in our workforce and properly manage staffing across the health system," he said. "For example, the team was able to monitor the number of provider call-outs and the reasoning for each, like respiratory symptoms or a lack of childcare when school closures happened."

With Mission Control's AI, decision-makers were able to anticipate the staffing needs of each hospital up to seven days in advance and adjust staffing to meet those needs, he noted. As team members were reallocated, they were given all the information available on each patient to ensure use of the appropriate PPE and other precautions.

"The ability to track and share data on critical items – including the number of intensive care unit beds and negative airflow rooms – allowed us to share updates with other regional providers, creating a united response for Puget Sound communities when they needed it most," Patel said.

Finally, the technology provided staff with the ability to track every at-risk patient to ensure they were in the safest location possible, avoiding potential harmful contact with other patients and ensuring their care teams could wear the appropriate level of PPE to safely care for them.


Since it launched, Mission Control has had tremendous success managing capacity, transfers, patient placement and staffing, as well as expediting care.

Since August 2019, the Mission Control team has created 1,423 additional days to care for more patients, expedited treatment for 142 critical care patients, mitigated 68 patient surgeries, maintained a 10% reduction in bed request turnaround times, and enabled 561 patients to leave the hospital more quickly. More than 2,000 patient hours have been saved.


"We are once again reminded as an industry that the only constant is change," Patel advised. "As this global pandemic has demonstrated, we must be nimble, open to innovative ideas, and willing to take risks to advance the safety and wellbeing of the communities we serve.

"This type of technology investment is good for any leaders looking for a way to optimize operations and efficiencies within healthcare," he continued. "The high-powered and transparent analytics, and centralized and standardized processes, make this a scalable solution for improving care delivery. As additional tiles become available, we anticipate using these kinds of insights to measure the severity of a patient's illness, aid in post-acute transition planning and optimize operating room schedules."

Additionally, the lessons learned from this technology, both before and during the pandemic, have been shared among CommonSpirit's other divisions as part of the organization's Bright Spot strategy to highlight best practices from across the enterprise. As CHI Franciscan looks ahead, it anticipates training and preparing more staff members to use the platform.

Twitter: @SiwickiHealthIT
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