Ransom Memorial Health is exploring ways to make patient visits to the hospital as worrisome free as possible, an RHM official said.

One way is to expand the services. Matt Heyn, RMH CEO, told the attendees at First Friday Forum at Neosho County Community College, that a step RMH is looking at is the Telehealth program. Telehealth encompasses a broad variety of technologies and tactics to deliver virtual medical health and education services.

“We are working on it at Ransom right now,” Heyn said. “There is lots of issues with telehealth.”

Heyn gave an example how the program would work.

“You have a stroke and come into our Emergency Department,” he said. “We don’t have 24/7, 365 neurostroke consultation or where a neurologist can beam in or show up physically to help the ER physician assess what is going on with the patient. The way we can leverage telemedicine is by having a platform. A neurosurgeon or a specialized neurologist will be on the other end and they will be in direct communication with this patient and physician in the Emergency Department. They will be working in collaboration trying to figure out the best mechanism of treatment for patients.”

Heyn said is important because not all strokes are the same.

“They can either be the bleeding strokes or strokes that are blockages in the brain,” Heyn said. “We have medicine to help [clear] those blockages. Clot-busting drug is what we have to break those vessels free so blood can get back to the brain. There is the stroke where it requires quick intervention where they have a bleeder. The point in this is timing. We have quick diagnosis of what is going on.”

He said some areas of the telemedicine include stroke, radiology, ICU, and pathology. But before that can occur, he said a few factors need to be worked out. Those include ways of reimbursement, licensing, privileges of physicians, online prescribing, medical malpractice, liability insurance and privacy and security.

Heyn said the reason behind the telemedicine push is to help rural hospitals have access to specialized medicine. Heyn said resources in western Kansas are sparse and limited.

“Coming to this side of the state the mentality of healthcare is so different than what I came from,” Heyn said. “We would vigorously recruit one physician to our community. It was epic if you got a doc that said they would come to western Kansas. One way Kansas Hospital Association is advocating to help [shrink] that gap is by developing a telemedicine program.”

Medicaid expansion and the end of the Affordable Care Act are a couple of vital issues to the future viability of hospitals, Heyn said.

“The incentive was ACA encouraged states to expand their medicaid coverage,” Heyn said. “Our community hospitals are the medicaid expansion plans. We have to provide care. It is our mission as a community hospital to provide care to every single person that comes in. Some hospitals don’t. If you are in the for profit healthcare world, they can pick and choose a little bit more. We are a government county owned non-profit hospital. We have to provide that gap in medicaid. That equals approximately a billion dollars annually in uncompensated care.”

Heyn said good healthcare along with good schools is vital to a thriving community, so it can attract businesses, industries and retirees to live there.

Heyn said Ransom Memorial Hospital fits that model as it was recently given four-star recognition from medicare.

“There is just one other four-star hospital in the entire Kansas City metropolitan area, that is Shawnee Mission,” he said. “Everybody else is three-star or lower. From medicare’s point of view, we have higher quality of care in your community that is more personalized than what you receive in the big city hospital.”