Da Vinci robotic surgical system delivered to Providence Medical Center

The da Vinci Robotic Surgical System recently was delivered to Providence Medical Center, making state-of-the-art surgical care available for Kansas City, Kan., residents.

“Many of the physicians who practice at Providence are trained in robotic surgery,” said Randy Nyp, Providence CEO. “This investment by Prime Healthcare makes it possible for them to now offer the latest technology to their patients, performing complex minimally invasive procedures at Providence. The da Vinci gives our patients the opportunity for the best possible surgical outcomes, while staying closer to home for their care.”

The da Vinci Surgical System is a tool the surgeon uses to perform procedures such as a prostatectomy, hysterectomy or gallbladder surgery. Its movements are controlled by the surgeon’s, but its 3-D high-definition vision system, special instruments and computer software allow the surgeon to operate with enhanced vision, precision, dexterity and control.

The system can magnify images up to 10 times so the surgeon has a close-up view of the area he or she is operating on.

The da Vinci instruments have mechanical wrists that bend and rotate to mimic the movements of the human wrist, allowing the surgeon to make small, precise movements inside the body. It offers surgeons greater precision and can be used for a wide range of procedures. A hallmark of da Vinci surgery is that doctors can make much smaller incisions than are used in traditional open surgeries.

Compared with open surgery, studies have shown da Vinci surgery may result in:

• A shorter hospital stay.

• Less blood loss.

• Fewer complications

• Less need for narcotic pain medicine.

• A faster recovery.

• Smaller incisions for minimal scarring.

“We’re very excited to be able to offer minimally invasive da Vinci surgery to our patients,” said Karen Orr, Providence chief nursing officer. “The da Vinci has a proven track record that is making it the new standard of surgical care.”

Over the past decade, hundreds of studies have been published on the use of the da Vinci Surgical System demonstrating improved surgical outcomes when compared to open surgery.

To date, more than 1.5 million surgeries have been performed worldwide with this system. Surgery with the da Vinci Surgical System is a type of minimally invasive surgery.

Most major insurance plans include da Vinci surgery in their minimally invasive coverage. Insurance providers have more information about coverage.

– Story from Providence Medical Center


Senate passes autism bill

by Dave Ranney, KHI News Service

Topeka — A House-approved bill that would require state-regulated health insurers to cover the diagnosis and treatment of autism sailed through the Senate on Wednesday.
House Bill 2744, which passed 38-2, now goes to the governor.
“We’re very excited that it’s passed,” said Michael Wasmer, a spokesperson for the advocacy group Autism Speaks. “It’s not perfect. There are some flaws, but it’s clearly a step in the right direction.”
If enacted, the legislation is expected to benefit about 750 children over the next two to three years.
“That’s about 20 percent of the children who aren’t covered now,” Wasmer said.
HB 2744 would require state-regulated insurers to cover a type of therapy known as “applied behavior analysis” for up to 25 hours a week for autistic children diagnosed between birth and age 5.
The treatments would be covered for four years, meaning that a child diagnosed at 2 would have access to up to 25 hours of the therapy a week until reaching age 6; a child diagnosed at 4 would have access until age 8.
After the four years, coverage for the therapy could be limited to 10 hours per week.
Children diagnosed after age 6 would be eligible for 10 hours per week. The coverage could end when the child turns 12.
Advocates for families with autistic children have argued that 10 hours per week wouldn’t be enough and that 25 hours should be considered the bare minimum. Forty or more hours, they said, might be needed by severely autistic children.
“What’s in the bill is not what we want,” said Jennifer Smith, executive director with the advocacy group Autism Society of the Heartland. “It’s not ideal. But we’ve been at this for six years now, and it’s become pretty clear that this is all we’re going to get this year. So it’s a step. We’ll take it and come back next year.”
The state’s insurance lobby has long argued against having to cover autism, calling the initiative a “mandate” that would increase costs and force companies to increase premiums. It also has argued that autism is a developmental condition rather than a medical condition.
Several senators spoke in favor of the bill Wednesday.
“Autism is like cancer in that if you detect it and treat it early, you’re much more likely to have a much better result,” said Sen. Steve Abrams, an Arkansas City Republican and a former chair of the Kansas State Board of Education. “I do support this bill.”
“I will be voting yes for this bill because it is a start,” said Sen. Tom Hawk, a Democrat from Manhattan. “I want us to move forward. I want to work hard to fix the things in this bill that need to be corrected.”
Hawk shared that his 4-year-old niece was diagnosed with autism when she was 18 months old.
“I’ve seen what families of autistic children go through,” Hawk said. “With this bill, I want to provide my niece with the four years of treatment that she so desperately needs and that others like her so desperately need.”
The coverage requirements in HB 2744 would affect state-regulated, large group plans, starting Jan. 1. A year later, the mandate would be expanded to include state-regulated small-group and individual plans in place prior to the March 23, 2010, enactment of the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare.
The senators who voted against HB 2744 were Sen. Mary Pilcher-Cook, Shawnee, and Sen. Caryn Tyson, Parker. Both are Republicans.
Sen. Rob Olson, an Olathe Republican and chair of the Senate Financial Institutions and Insurance Committee, assured the chamber that he will introduce a “trailer bill” to resolve some “technical issues” involving how autism would be defined and how treatment providers would be licensed.
The provisions in HB 2744 will not affect the large-group, self-insured plans in Kansas. Several of these employers’ plans – including Cerner, Garmin, Koch Industries and Children’s Mercy Hospital – already cover autism.
Kansas state employees’ health plan and Tricare, the U.S. military’s health insurance plan, also cover autism.

The KHI News Service is an editorially independent initiative of the Kansas Health Institute. It is supported in part by a variety of underwriters. The News Service is committed to timely, objective and in-depth coverage of health issues and the policy-making environment. More about the News Service is at khi.org/newsservice or contact 785 233-5443.

Study conducted at KU Hospital suggests nonsurgical fix could replace open heart surgery

Results from a groundbreaking study performed at The University of Kansas Hospital, Kansas City, Kan., give a big boost to fixing a bad aortic valve, the heart’s main gate, without open-heart surgery.

The results were revealed at the American College of Cardiology’s 2014 Scientific Sessions in Washington, D.C., and are being published in the New England Journal of Medicine.

The University of Kansas Hospital is one of only 45 national sites, and the only local site, participating in this landmark study which showed more patients were alive at one year if they received a new minimally-invasive heart device called the Core Valve, compared to patients who had traditional open-heart surgery. The study shows 19 percent of the surgery patients and only 14 percent of those given a Core Valve had died, a statistically significant finding.

Several hundred thousand Americans have a bad aortic valve, which can stiffen and narrow with age, keeping blood from passing through as it should. Until now, the only solution was a major operation to open the chest, cut out the bad valve and sew in a new one. The Core Valve system is inserted through an artery in the leg and then guided through the arteries into the heart at the site of the original aortic valve. Once in place the Core Valve system expands into place of the original valve and takes over its function.

“It’s absolutely a game-changer,” said Dr. Trip Zorn, a cardiothoracic surgeon at The University of Kansas Hospital. “This technology has offered us an option for those who had no surgical option, that medicine was their only therapy.”

Dr. Zorn said older patients, or patients at high or extreme risk for surgery can now get this treatment, which also leads to significant improvements in their quality of life, according to the study.

To see a KU Hospital video about the nonsurgical heart treatment, visit https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R2gSM-sU4Gw.

– Story from KU Hospital