The virtual doctor makes house calls, and virtual house calls have arrived in Wichita. When Maureen McCafferty developed hyperthyroidism in high school, it took many blood tests by Dr. Jacques Blackman, her family physician at Via Christi Health’s clinic in Wichita, to fine-tune her medication. Today, as a student at Kansas State University in Manhattan, she continues coordinating her care with Dr. Blackman via email.
“I feel if I have any sort of problem, even though I’m far away, Dr. Blackman can help me,” she says.
Jeff Kormso, Via Christi Health president and CEO, says the health system invested $75 million to build and install a common electronic health record system throughout Via Christi so every clinician has instant access to patients’ complete medical histories.
“This new system gives patients online access to their medical records and the ability to securely email their physicians through our website,” Korsmo says.
Via Christi Health also recently renovated its St. Francis and St. Joseph hospital campuses.
Wesley Medical Center in Wichita is investing $36 million in a renovation and expansion of its women’s care unit to pamper new mothers with a spa feeling.
“We are the leading hospital for women’s care in the metro area for deliveries, so it is important for us to maintain that market share by providing an environment where women want to have their baby,” says COO Bill Voloch.
Upgraded aesthetics include individual room temperature controls and LINCOR Linc technology that allows patients to access the Internet, listen to the radio, play video games and Skype with family members from their bedside. “Patients love it,” Voloch says.
Parents are also happy Wesley Medical Center is one of the first facilities in Kansas to offer the new “Veo” low dose CT scanner for children. “Pediatricians had been begging for this technology, so this has been a huge success in serving our large pediatric patient population,” Voloch says.
As part of its technological upgrade, Wesley Medical Center has created a portal that provides patients access to all of their medical records, including the ability to get lab results real-time via a smartphone.
“We have a concierge at the hospital whose sole job is to help every patient log in the first time,” says Brett Harkopp, market director of advanced clinicals and meaningful use coordinator. “Once they see the portal, they are head over heels about it.”
Growing Health Professionals
To meet the demand for more doctors, the University of Kansas School of Medicine-Wichita now leads the nation in the percentage of graduates choosing family medicine. Wichita State University recently added an online option for its RN-to-BSN program, while Via Christi Health offers a new residency program for nurses. Wichita patients are also benefiting from new clinics such as the urgent-care franchise Doctors Express, and the abundance of specialty hospitals, including Kansas Spine & Specialty Hospital and Select Specialty Hospital.
Wichita Health Alliance
The Health Alliance at the Wichita Metro Chamber of Commerce spearheads various efforts targeted at health care, including a partnership with the Kansas Leadership Center.
“We are working together to train 400 people over three years to influence and improve our five health priorities, one of which is reducing obesity and diabetes,” says Sonja Armbruster, health alliance co-chair.
Already, 15 interdisciplinary teams are developing interventions, such as a plan for a local food policy council to work on nutrition related to diabetes and obesity. “We also have a team with a staff member from Bombardier who held a worksite health fair focused entirely on assessing and early intervention for diabetes,” Armbruster says.
The Wichita Business Coalition on Health Care is another multi-stakeholder membership organization that facilitates discussion and provides solutions to the forces shaping Wichita health care.
More Community Involvement
Armbruster says that the strategic goal of the Health Alliance partnership with the Leadership Center is to engage more people to own the work involved in better health care. “When I am sick, I want to go to the health care providers here because they are great, but we have to get the whole community working toward health,” she says.
Read more about health care in Wichita.