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Recent News about Sunflower Health Network

Sunflower Health Network, Inc., Implements OffSite’s Virtual CD for Patients’ Diagnostic Images

(February 2, 2015) – St. Joseph, Mo. Some of the biggest challenges in healthcare are related to finding ways to manage, store and exchange ever-growing data. Managing and sharing radiology data has proven to be a difficult task for many hospitals and clinics, resulting in redundancies, delayed diagnoses and frustrating both patients and providers. However, more facilities are solving this dilemma through cloud-based and cost-effective methods of managing radiology exams in order to streamline patient care.

OffSite Image Management, Inc., is working to get more healthcare providers up to date, including eliminating outdated data systems for radiology images -- resulting in cost savings, better efficiency and enhanced patient outcomes.

Sunflower Health Network, Inc., based in Salina, Ks., reaches out to residents in 15 counties in central and north central Kansas, and in Harper County to the south. Like many rural providers throughout the nation, Sunflower facilities are offering excellent care to remote residents tending to farmland, as well as urban residents in larger towns and cities like Salina.

Heather Fuller, executive director at Sunflower, said several of the 17 facilities in the network used different methods of archiving and sharing medical images, but many were using compact discs as the primary method. CD burning technology, when it was first introduced, gave radiologists a chance to step away from the traditional film method and free up valuable storage space. However, CD burning technology also has its shortfalls, not the least of which is the risk of losing the CD. Another shortfall is that some physicians are handed CDs that won’t open or images like x-rays, CT scans and other modalities can’t be read.

Virtual CD takes the burning out of the process and introduces a method by which physicians are given a secure URL that can be used to gain access to the medical images. Virtual CD is the state of art solution that allows movement of DICOM data across artificial barriers set by proprietary EMR and HIE vendors.

Virtual CD allows secure access to radiology data through utilizing a dedicated URL, which could be integrated as part of any information exchange or DIRECT messaging system. Because OffSite builds its solutions in a vendor neutral archiving format, there are no roadblocks between physicians using disparate systems.

Fuller said Sunflower administrators set a goal to get all members using the same system, which would allow physicians to provide more consistent and efficient treatment of patients. Realizing that OffSite’s Virtual CD solution could offer this consistency to every facility in the network, Fuller approached the company about implementing the solution network-wide.

The implementation process has been a smooth one. Fuller said OffSite has provided members implementation manuals and is in the process of training Sunflower employees, going onsite to some hospitals and providing phone and email support as needed.

“The Virtual CD will help with transitions of care,” said Fuller of what she expects out of Virtual CD in the coming months. “It will save hospitals money and time, as well as making things easier for the providers and the patients.”

Fuller expects the solution to really shine when it comes to patient transfers, especially in emergency situations because physicians will have images available to them in a matter of seconds. The Virtual CD solution will also help reduce the amount of repeat tests. For instance, when rural patients need to see a specialist, their medical data can be instantly transferred to that specialist through OffSite’s cloud-based solution. “We like that this system is designed by a former radiology tech,” Fuller said of the OffSite professionals who have extensive backgrounds in rural radiology facilities and know the needs of the rural providers.

For more information about Sunflower’s network, visit online at www.sunflowerhealthnetwork.com. Visit OffSite Image Management online at www.offsiteimagemgt.com to learn more about Virtual CD and their other solutions for radiological image storing and sharing. With more than 58 million images archived to-date, Offsite is quickly becoming one of the nation’s leaders in vendor neutral image sharing for healthcare facilities.


Sunflower Health Network earns national recognition

(May 19, 2011) – The Sunflower Health Network, Inc., was recently recognized by the National Cooperative of Health Networks Association (NCHN) as the 2011 Outstanding Health Network of the Year.

The Outstanding Health Network of the Year Award recognizes a network that has improved access to health services in its service area and has improved the coordination of resources for members using particularly innovative and comprehensive approaches. Heather Fuller, Executive Director of the Sunflower Health Network, recently accepted the award at the 17th annual NCHN conference in Scottsdale, Arizona.

"The Sunflower Health Network received one of the highest honors possible when selected by its peers as the Outstanding Health Network of 2011," said Rebecca J. Davis, Ph.D., Executive Director of the NCHN. "This award is reserved for the health network organization that exemplifies excellence in organizational management and coordination of resources for its members in support of outstanding health care services within the network's area. In addition, it was wonderful to see a founding organizational member of NCHN – the Sunflower Health Network – receive this year's award. On behalf of the NCHN Board of Directors and staff, I offer congratulations to both Heather for her outstanding leadership and to the members of the Sunflower Health Network."

The Sunflower Health Network is comprised of 16 member hospitals primarily serving north central Kansas, including Clay County Medical Center, Cloud County Health Center, Ellsworth County Medical Center, Herington Municipal Hospital, Jewell County Hospital, Lincoln County Hospital, Lindsborg Community Hospital, Memorial Health System – Abilene, Mitchell County Hospital-Health Systems, Osborne County Memorial Hospital, Ottawa County Health Center, Republic County Hospital, Salina Regional Health Center, Smith County Memorial Hospital and Anthony Medical Center.

The organization was founded in 1994 to improve the effectiveness and efficiency of health care delivery in the region. The 16 member hospitals, in conjunction with their medical staffs developed the network to foster cooperation and coordination in order to enhance the integration of health related services among member communities while respecting local autonomy. The organization works to enhance the cost effectiveness of member hospitals and providers by sharing services and/or expertise in such areas as clinical services, support services, administration and education.

Current Sunflower Health Network initiatives include:

• Improving access to specialty physician care throughout the region
• Reducing hospital vulnerability to changes in Medicare reimbursement
• Sustaining adequate numbers of nurses and other key professionals
• Optimizing patient care quality within each hospital
• Improving the capacity to share electronic patient care information
• Facilitating leadership development

"This award is a great honor and validates how important collaboration is between hospitals serving the region," said David Dick, administrator at Mitchell County Hospital-Health Systems and current board chair of the organization. "The fact that we have a strong network with active members will certainly make transition to the coming changes in health care easier in the future and the outcomes better."


Kansas Academy of Family Physicians recently released the following article:

The Kansas Patient Centered Medical Home Initiative (PCMHI) announces the selection of 8 physician-led practices to participate in the Kansas PCMHI Pilot Project as part of the larger PCMH Initiative. With the official launch scheduled to kick off July 1, 2011, the 24-month Pilot Project will serve as a focal point for health care transformation in the state of Kansas. The selected practices include:

American Medical Practice of Winfield / Augusta Family Practice, PA, Winfield; Cheyenne County Clinic, Cheyenne County Hospital, St. Francis; Ellsworth County Medical Center and Rural Health Clinic, Ellsworth; Mindi S. Garner, D.O., Chartered, Pittsburg; Great Plains of Sabetha, Inc. dba Sabetha Family Practice, Sabetha; Internal Medicine Group, PA, Lawrence; KU Wichita Adult Medicine, University of Kansas School of Medicine - Wichita, Medical Practice Association, Wichita; Plainville Medical Clinic, Plainville.

The PCMH health care delivery model can best be described as a patient-centered model designed for patients to receive the right care at the right time, lowering health care costs and improving the health care consumer's overall health across the health care system. For health care providers it can mean improved collaboration, communication, and improved patient outcomes. This PCMH model was developed in response to the Future of Family Medicine Project in early 2000. The goal was to develop a solution in response to recognized discontent among family physicians, frustrated in their ability to provide the highest quality care for their patients, in the context of a health care delivery system that did not facilitate their primary health care role. In June 2006, the innovative National Demonstration Project (NDP) rigorously tested this new model of flexible, patient-centered care.

The Kansas PCMH Initiative kicked off January 1, 2011 under the collaborative leadership of the Kansas Academy of Family Physicians, Kansas Association of Osteopathic Medicine, Kansas Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics, Kansas Chapter of the American College of Physicians, and the Kansas Medical Society. In April of 2011, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Kansas pledged payer support for the 8 selected pilots. "Blue Cross is committed to exploring the patient-centered medical home model as we believe this model of care could well be the wave of the future for primary care," said Michael D. Atwood, M.D., chief medical officer for BCBS Kansas and family physician. "If this pilot proves successful, it may provide a model for possible expansion to a wider group of primary care physicians in the near future."


Keep in touch

The Sunflower Health Network newsletter is published four times a year and includes information and news from participating hospitals and communities.

If you have information you would like to submit or a question, email Heather Fuller, Executive Director at hfuller@srhc.com.


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