Tuesday, January 31, 2012

KUMC Assistant Professor heads startup company to help cancer centers meet new guidelines

Article courtesy of LeavenworthTimes.com
By Tim Linn
GateHouse News Service
Posted Jan 28, 2012 @ 08:39 AM

In September, President Barack Obama spoke to a desire to promote the commercialization of university research efforts, later signing an executive order to shorten the length of time to turn federally funded research into commercial product.

A Leavenworth native is now helping in that task, launching a startup company in May based on research she conducted in collaboration with the National Oncology Nursing Society.

Jennifer Klemp is an assistant professor of medicine at the University of Kansas Medical Center. She is also the director of cancer survivorship for the center. It was that later specialty that spurred the new venture, called Cancer Survivorship Training Inc.
Hospitals have constantly shifting guidelines for care, Klemp said, one of the newest ones being that accredited cancer centers have cancer survivorship programs in place by 2015.
With that in mind, she said Thursday that she began researching how cancer survivorship programs were being delivered currently at hospitals nationwide. Klemp said the results, coming directly from hospitals nationwide, seemed to indicate there was a lot of work to do in the lead up to 2015.
“Only 13 percent of respondents had any sort of formal programs,” she said.
Another 60 percent of respondents, Klemp said, had not begun to start setting up a survivorship care program or were in the thinking phase. The survey also sought to gauge how those respondents would like to train to set up a survivors care program.
Klemp said survivorship programs have an important place in the “continuum of care.” Though most patients have primary care physicians and oncologists, there has long been a gulf in the middle. Klemp said patients often receive a host of information at the time of diagnosis from their primary care professionals — information that they might not need until years later. And oncologists’ primary concern is looking for the return of cancer. Survivor care, Klemp said, bridges the gap between the two.
“It’s coming in and making sure you don’t have any major side effects from the treatments, your heart’s doing fine, your bones are fine,” she said. “It’s a true multi-disciplinary approach.”
Using the results of the survey plus the fact that her office has had requests for guidance setting up survivor care programs, Klemp said she started putting together some tools for a “systemwide” disbursement of training. Although a grant that would have funded that effort did not pan out, Klemp said another opportunity — one to license the research from KU and set up a business — did emerge. Because of the unpredictability of grant funding from one year to the next, Klemp said that route might have been a better option for the long term anyway.
“This is allowing for built-in sustainability,” she said.

In May, Klemp said Cancer Survivorship Training Inc., the startup company for which she will have oversight, will officially launch its services, offering a number of online and mobile applications to help train and educate healthcare providers on cancer survivorship programs.
Julie Gooneardene, KU’s associate vice chancellor for innovation and entrepreneurship, applauded the effort.
“We’re excited and proud to work with Dr. Klemp and facilitate the creation of this new startup company — the 23rd startup company to come out of KU,” she said. “At KU, we’re working to encourage an entrepreneurial mindset among our researchers so we can continue to transfer university research into new products and new cures. This is exactly the type of technology transfer that we want to facilitate.”
For Klemp, the new effort is a way to improve more than just healthcare professionals’ credentials.\
“The ultimate goal is obviously we want to improve patient care,” she said.

Monday, January 30, 2012

Pharmacy in Greensburg to open Feb. 1 - Innovative machine is key to new dispensary

Article courtesy of the Kiowa County Signal
By Patrick Clement - Signal Editor

Greensburg, KS - Starting on the first day of February, area residents will be able to fill their prescriptions locally thanks to a 40-year pharmacy veteran and an innovative new machine that might be the pharmacist of the future.
“This has been a long time coming, “ said Kiowa County Memorial Hospital Administrator Mary Sweet. “It’s just another sign of progress and rebuilding. For people in the community it will be more convenient and for our patients it means not having to drive half an hour to pick up their medications.”
In anticipation of the opening of the pharmacy, the hospital is circulating flyers and forms for area residents to fill out. “The forms are so people can get into the system ahead of time,” said Sweet.
The pharmacy is one of a number of pharmacies owned by Merlin McFarlane, a south-central Kansas based pharmacy veteran. McFarlane owns locations in Kingman, Cheyenne Okla., Harper and Wichita.
“I’ve been talking about this for a long time with Mary [Sweet] and Dennis McKinney,” McFarlane said. “I knew Dennis for a long time, since he was our state legislator. I was on the Board of Pharmacy and got to know him. Since the tornado both of them were coming by trying to get me to put a pharmacy out here. Until now there had not been an option to do that.”
McFarlane cites the large prescription-dispensing machine as the primary reason he will be able to provide services in Kiowa County. The computer-integrated system can accept and fill prescriptions automatically, keeping costs down while still fulfilling patients’ needs.
“My store in Kingman has some automation, but nothing like this,” continued McFarlane.
“We’ll have a staff member in the hospital that will be able to access our system and enter people’s information. The computer will take the information, put it into our work queue in the pharmacy. We will be able to access it and if the certain medication is in the robot, it will dispense the medication properly into the bottle, put a lid on it, print and stick the label and bag it for the customer.”
The machine does not and cannot complete every task. But it can reduce overall man-hours and reduce labor costs without interrupting services.
“It holds about 180 of the most popular medications in it,” McFarlane noted. “It can’t have everything, but we hope it will do 60 to 70 percent of the orders. Then the pharmacist will be able to provide those to the customers during the open hours.”

McFarlane has hired Julie Keeton and her husband, Bucklin native, Wayne Keeton to run the facility beginning in June and will have pharmacists from Pratt oversee operations starting in February.
“After she takes her board exam [in May] they plan on moving out to the area. Hopefully into Greensburg, if they can find a place to live. In May or June they will be out here. He’s got a business degree and she’ll have a pharmacy degree. He’ll probably do something else, but he’ll help with the accounting [at the pharmacy],” continued McFarlane.
Labor costs are the biggest concern says McFarlane; especially considering the small number of customers a rural pharmacy serves. He says that the machine allows flexibility for the future in regards to expenses and the pharmacy’s ability to withstand economic ups and downs.
“There really is almost no downside to having equipment like this. They are working on regulations right now that would allow communities where there is no pharmacy the ability to do telepharmacy or remote dispensing. Those regulations are probably a couple of years away. This machine could become a satellite pharmacy, worse case scenario.”
McFarlane says he’s seen a lot of changes in his 40 years in the business. So what does he think of a more computerized and automated system?
“It has gotten and will get more and more automated,” he acknowledged. “Now, we can’t bill an insurance company without a computer. You can’t send a paper claim to an insurance company anymore. I think the way we are doing this is pretty cool. I think it’s pretty neat the way this all works.”
The new pharmacy inside of the Kiowa County Memorial Hospital will open at 1 p.m. on Feb. 1. Find more information at www.KCMH.net

Friday, January 27, 2012

Southeast Kansas on a crusade against heart disease

Article courtesy of The Morning Sun
By Nikki Patrick
January 27, 2012

PITTSBURG - Heather Baima, APRN, and Shelley Watts, APRN, want to clear up a common misconception.
“When you ask what the No. 1 killer of women is, a lot of people think that it’s breast cancer, but that’s not correct,” Watts said. “Heart disease is the No. 1 killer of women. Actually, it’s the No. 1 killer of everybody.”
Both women know a great deal about heart disease because they see it every day.
Baima worked for 11 years as a nurse at St. John’s Medical Center in the Medical Cardiac Unit, and has been employed in the office of Dr. Ali Hammad, cardiologist, for the past 1 1/2 years. Watts has been a coordinating nurse practitioner in the office of Dr. Bashar Marji, cardiologist, for the past 2 1/2 years.
“We see people every day who suffer from heart-related illness, and it’s so sad,” Watts said. “This part of Kansas, Crawford and Cherokee Counties, has some of the highest rates of heart disease in the state.”
The good news is that people can do something about it.
Top risk factors for heart disease include having high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes, smoking, being overweight or obese, being physically inactive, age and family history.
“You can’t dodge your genetics, but you can modify other risk factors,” Baima said. “You can keep your cholesterol low, stop smoking and lose excess weight.”
They are now planning several events in observance of the “Go Red for Women” campaign of the American Heart Association. The symbol of the campaign is a red dress.
“It symbolizes the fact that heart disease doesn’t care what you wear,” Baima said.
The official kickoff for Go Red will be a reception from 2 to 4 p.m. on Feb. 3 in the Via Christi Hospital community entrance.
The two sent out letters to area schools to get them involved, and Frontenac High School picked up the ball.
“There will be a Go Red basketball game at 6 p.m. Feb. 7 at Frontenac,” Baima said. “There will be T-shirts, with proceeds going to the American Heart Association, and we will be there.”
Baima and Watts will also speak at a Via Christi Lunch and Learn session on Feb. 10.
Living a heart-healthy lifestyle is important for everyone, but the Go Red campaign focuses on women for several reasons.
“One out of every four women will die from heart disease,” Baima said. “We are the caregivers, and are often too busy taking care of others to take care of ourselves.”

“Women also don’t have the typical heart symptoms,” Watts added. “For a woman, the signs of heart disease might be something as simple as just having shortness of breath when walking, or pain in the back or jaw.”
While heart disease is often thought to be mainly a problem in the elderly, this is changing.
“We are becoming more unhealthy as a nation,” Watts said. “We have people in their 30s and 40s with heart disease now. Our goal is to help younger people know how to prevent this.”
Many young people spend hours on the computer, and Baima has a message for them.
“Step away from your computer,” she said. “We teach women as young as high school the importance of getting healthy exercise.”
Modern busy lifestyles, and even economic pressures, contribute to the problem.
“Thirty or 40 years ago you didn’t have both parents in the workplace, or  high school kids in the workplace as well as going to school,” Baima said. “It’s getting harder to fit exercise into many people’s lifestyle, then they drive through a fast food place for meals. It is wonderful to see that a lot of those places now have healthier choices. We just have to educate people to make those choices.”
And those choices should be made consistently.
“It can’t just be a diet, it can’t be something you do until your cholesterol is down,” Baima said. “It has to be a lifestyle change.”
She acknowledged that change can take time, and noted that making unrealistic goals is not the best way to go.
“Slowly build up to a healthier lifestyle,” Baima said. “Set an attainable goal, like walking for 15 minutes three days a week. Anything that you do consistently for four weeks will become a habit.”
Additional information is available through Go Red BetterU, the American Heart Association’s free 12-week online program. It is available at GoRedforWomen.org.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Statewide HEI taking shape in Kansas

The statewide health information exchange is finally beginning to come together. Read about it on the Kansas Medical Society's website: Statewide HIE taking shape in Kansas