Strong Vital Signs in Kansas City Healthcare Innovation


Healthcare innovation extends beyond the latest drugs introduced by pharmaceutical giants. Significant advances in technology, research and programs have been put into practice by major Kansas City hospitals and businesses.

Patients, hospitals, universities and businesses benefit from advances.

Healthcare innovation extends beyond the latest drugs introduced by powerhouse pharmaceutical companies. Significant advances in technology, research, services and programs have been put into practice by major area hospitals, universities and businesses. A local school district has even found an innovative way to deliver better healthcare options and services to their employees.

A vast network of care providers, researchers, entrepreneurs and administrators are making important advances in healthcare practices to the benefit of patients across the region.


The University of Kansas Hospital’s commitment to healthcare innovation is evident on many levels. By collaborating with researchers and trainers at The University of Kansas Medical Center (KUMC), as well as using cutting edge technology, the hospital advances academic medicine and provides better patient outcomes for complex conditions. The result? Lives are improved and saved in myriad ways.

For instance, The University of Kansas Cancer Center’s acquisition of TrueBeamTM technology reduces the radiation oncology treatment time. The technology aids in the treatment of difficult-to-reach cancers in the lung, brain, spine and other areas.

TrueBeam provides precise, noninvasive treatments in less time. Treatments that once took up to nearly two months can now be completed in five or fewer visits. The image-guided radiation treatments do not involve surgery, so patients experience less discomfort and fewer side effects.

 Another medical advancement involves an alternative to live fluoroscopy, a rapid series of X-ray images that are taken throughout the course of a procedure. Fluoroscopy is the current standard practice for viewing devices in the heart in real-time. MediGuide technology––first used in North America by The University of Kansas Hospital’s Center for Advanced Heart Care––was able to correct the abnormal heart rhythm of a patient from rural Holt, Mo.

The GPS-like system uses three-dimensional images to give physicians unprecedented views inside the heart. Physicians can guide a catheter with greater precision to treat the area causing abnormal rhythm. The procedure takes a fraction of the time previously required and can reduce radiation exposure by 15-50 percent.

“In traditional intervention procedures, the fluoroscope can be used anywhere from one to four hours to make sure the catheter gets to the correct place. That adds to significant radiation exposure for the patient and the staff in the room,” says electrophysiologist Dhanunjaya Lakkireddy, MD. He leads the complex arrhythmia ablation program at The University of Kansas Hospital. “With this technology, radiation exposure can be reduced. In our first procedure, exposure went from what would have been about 45 minutes to less than two minutes.”

The University of Kansas Hospital’s willingness to acquire and use innovative technology and techniques results in improved quality of healthcare for patients.


Saint Luke’s Health System also deploys state-of-the-art technology, such as its electronic Intensive Care Unit (eICU) to provide patients with round-the-clock physician care. A trained physician, critical care nurses and technician can accurately monitor ICU patients from an off-site location. In essence, patients have two sets of caregivers on-site and remote.

“The premise of the technology is to be preventative and proactive,” says Jennifer Ball, eICU Center operations director. “We pick up early warning signs and address issues so they can be rectified sooner. We provide an extra layer of care and are prepared and ready to act when needed.”

Vital signs, medications, blood test results, X-rays and other electronic medical records are transmitted from bedside monitors to Saint Luke’s eICU Center by private, high-speed data lines. Special cameras enable remote patient examination and communication with doctors and nurses.

“With the camera in the room, the doctor can have a conversation with the caregiver and the patient. They can communicate lab results, access patient information and provide education,” Ball says.

While primary physicians are contacted for major changes and physical procedures, the high-definition camera can zoom in anywhere in the eICU room to provide a view as if the remote physician or nurse were on-site. “We can run a code blue in an emergency, call the attending physician or resident for physical treatment, manage patients at night and even handle calls for pain medication. The technology and intuitive software helps us do our job and analyze what’s going on with the patient.”

Telemedicine began in the late 1990s as a way to help intensivists––a physician that specializes in critical care medicine––impact more lives. Use of the eICU maximizes the ability to enhance patient care. Ball says, “In one ICU, an intensivist can assist 10-16 patients. In an eICU, that person can impact over 100 patients.”

The technology, which has been used at Saint Luke’s for nine years, enables highly trained staff at its East Hospital or other facilities to not only provide…

Read the rest of this article in the digital issue of KC Business, available here.