Bradford Teaching Hospitals to launch AI-powered, NASA-inspired command centre

GE Healthcare is entering a two-year (with two 12 month extension options) contract with the NHS trust to design and implement the command centre, the company’s first initiative of the kind in Europe.
By Leontina Postelnicu
01:18 PM

The GE-developed Judy Reitz command centre at Johns Hopkins Medicine in Baltimore; Source: Johns Hopkins Medicine

Bradford Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust will open an AI-powered command centre at the Bradford Royal Infirmary next spring, thought to be the first of its kind in Europe, through a partnership with GE Healthcare.

The trust provides acute and community health inpatient services for approximately 500,000 people from Bradford and the surrounding area in England at the Bradford Royal Infirmary, where its Emergency Centre is based, and St Luke’s, along with three other community hospitals.

The new air traffic control-style or NASA-inspired centre is set to provide real-time access to an overview of the 800-bed hospital to help inform decisions on how to manage patient care, with up to 20 staff monitoring a so-called “Wall of Analytics”, pulling data from existing systems.

NHS under strain: system facing unprecedented demand

With more than 96 per cent of bed capacity at the Bradford infirmary regularly used and 125,000 A&E attendances per year, the new centre is expected to reduce length of stay and the need for additional wards and beds, particularly during winter times.

“Demand for services is growing at Bradford Teaching Hospitals every year. The command centre will enable us to optimise our use of resources and improve how we move patients around the hospital for treatment and successful discharge,” said Professor Clive Kay, Chief Executive at the trust.

A report published last year by the European Commission found that - excluding beds in the private sector - the UK, Spain, Denmark, and Sweden recorded in 2015 the lowest number of hospital beds relative to the size of their population, with under 300 per 100,000 people, looking at EU member states.

Analysis from independent think-tank The King’s Fund indicates that the number of NHS hospital beds in England has more than halved during the past 30 years, while the number of patients being treated has significantly increased. Speaking at an event organised by communications firm Freuds in London back in September, calling for better use of IT in the NHS, NHS England Deputy Chief Executive Matthew Swindells said:

“We have a choice, either we reinvent healthcare or we build three hospitals a year. I don’t think building three hospitals a year is what 21st century healthcare looks like.”

GE-developed command centres opened in US and Canada

GE Healthcare has partnered with a number of healthcare providers to launch several command centres in the US and Canada. At the Baltimore-based Johns Hopkins Medicine, two years since the opening of the Judy Reitz Command Centre, the technology has been linked to a more than 40 per cent improvement in facilitating transfers for patients with complex medical conditions from other hospitals in the region, according to the supplier.

These initiatives are different than existing transfer, bed management, and resource centres, the company says, because they are “multi-purpose and scalable”, managing “patient safety and experience”, including “predictive and prescriptive decision support tools, not just dashboards from IT systems”.

“Command centres help to orchestrate the delivery of care across the organisation, bringing consistency to processes, prioritising actions, eliminating waste and predicting tomorrow’s pressure points,” said Mark Ebbens, European Command Centre Lead at GE Healthcare.

Healthcare IT News reported earlier this year that GE spun off its healthcare business as a separate company towards the end of June, after recording more than $19bn in revenue in 2017.

The total value of the procurement at Bradford Teaching Hospitals is estimated to cost around £5.5m, excluding VAT, according to a contract award notice published at the beginning of October.

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