Innovation: More Than a Life of Its Own

By Dennis Boone

Advances in medical technology are unfolding at a phenomenal rate—just as America’s aging population presents the health-care community with unprecedented challenges.

Two immutable truths define the current state of health-care delivery in America today:

There has never been, coming at a faster pace, more innovation than there is today. There has never been, coming at a faster pace, a bigger generation of people with age-related health conditions than there is today.

And within that space are the 14 members of Ingram’s 2019 Top Doctors, who shared their observations about those two dynamic drivers—technological improvements and the graying of the Baby Boom generation.

Some inside-baseball here: In selecting honorees for this award each year, Ingram’s relies heavily on the recommendations of past Top Doctors who are, if you will, known commodities when it comes to excellence of care. It takes one to know one. We also sound out other reputable sources, including hospital CEOs and people in positions to know physicians who are setting standards for care. But recommendations from program alumni get some extra attention.

Over the course of 22 years, though, many of those past honorees still living are themselves either retired or nearly so, and old enough to experience age-based maladies of their own. And that, perhaps, is why the candidate field each year skews a little heavier toward orthopedic surgeons, cardiovascular specialists, and oncologists. They are, in Boomer terms, where the action is.

This year was no exception. Out of more than 200 active nominations, two specialties—cardiology and orthopedics—accounted for more than one-fourth of the field. While the alumni are aging out, though, they’re doing so at a time of unparalleled innovation that is changing the delivery of care, and the quality of patient outcomes.

Jack Jones sees that every day in his cardiology practice at Stormont Vail Health in Topeka.

“Among the big things that have happened in the past 20 years, technology has improved so much,” he said, pointing specifically to the latest generation of stents that can actually stop a heart attack in progress and clear blockages. “The durability is so much better now; 95 percent of the things we fix, stay fixed. Before stents, if you took someone with a heart attack and fixed a blocked valve, 50 percent would have another heart attack within hours or days.”

Newer devices, he said, can completely relieve a beating heart of the stresses it undergoes, helping patients pull through challenging procedures. “Five years ago,” Jones says, “they would have died.”

His compatriot in cardiology, Michael Main of Saint Luke’s Health System, thinks the wonders his profession has seen may be just scratching the surface of innovation to come.

“Newer drugs and devices in just the past five years weren’t even imagined 20 years ago,” says Main. “So if you try to imagine what might change over the next 20, you would be surprised. For structural heart disease, big things are coming. Really exciting things.”

But innovation isn’t confined to medical devices alone. The way hospitals craft recovery programs for patients is also improving. Mangesh Oza of North Kansas City Hospital, who is dealing with new tech in an evolving realm of robotics and microsurgery, pointed to the Enhanced Recovery After Surgery procedures there.

“It started in 2018, trying to manage things like patient expectations, pain control and bowel function,” he says, “and it has reduced our length of stay to one or two days from five to seven days.” Advances in care incorporating team-based approaches bring together physicians, pharmacy, nursing, social workers, anesthesiologists and more. “It’s really exciting to see how these teams come together all for the benefit of the patient,” Oza says, “and it’s also important to try to control costs. This has significantly helped.”

Similar advances are helping Children’s Mercy Kansas City in its evolution from a Kansas City-focused provider into a regional, and in some cases, national player.

“We have been focused on advancing minimally invasive skill and techniques,” says Shawn St. Peter, who oversees the pediatric surgical operations at CMH.

“In addition, we continue to press toward developing management pathways that decrease the morbidity, shorten hospitalization and minimize the investments required by the patients and family in the treatment of common problems,” he said. “We have done this through randomized trials, comparative studies and prospective protocol development.”

While the technology is transformative, it shouldn’t in itself be equated with quality care says honoree Ryan Huyser of Liberty Hospital.

“Technological advancement is great, but it’s not what makes great medicine.  Five years ago, I had to undergo a major orthopedic procedure. Becoming a patient, I became aware of what really makes medicine great. I became completely in awe of the dedication and skill of my surgeon, the care and attention of my nurses, the expertise of my physical therapist. Having an understanding of what it took for these professionals to get to this point, the sacrifices they make, not only themselves but often their families, I was so grateful for them.

“Becoming a patient reminded me that what makes great medicine is dedicated people that truly care for the well-being of others. I’m so grateful to be a part of that.” 

Classes 1997–2018 Top Doctor Alums

Rony Abou-Jawde, Oncologist

Raghu Adiga, Epidemiologist

Mark Aeder, Transplant Surgeon

Ann Allegre, Internal Medicine, Palliative Specialist

Arthur Allen, Neurologist

Glenn Amundson, Orthopedics

Craig Anderson, General Surgeon

Edward Andres, Vascular Surgeon

Keith Ashcraft, Pediatric Surgeon

Mark Austenfeld, Urologist

David Bamberger, Infectious Diseases Specialist

Chris Barnthouse, Orthopaedic Surgeon

Kent Barr, Cardiologist

Todd Beardman, Hospitalist

Robert Belt, Oncologist

Walter Bender, Nephrologist

Loren Berenbom, Electrophysiologist

Gary Berger, Physical Medicine/Rehab

Irene Bettinger, Neurologist

Geoffrey Blatt, Neurosurgeon

David Bock, Urologist

Douglas Bogart, Cardiologist

Rene Bollier, Family Medicine

Michael Borkon, Cardiovascular Surgeon

Celeste Brabec, Reproductive Medicine

Denise Bratcher, Assoc. Professor of Pediatrics

William Brodine, Cardiac Electrophysiologist

Charles Brook, Pulmonologist

Jon Browne, Orthopedic Surgeon

David Burkart, Interventional Radiologist

Fred Burry, Pediatrician

Paul Camarata, Neurosurgeon

Gary Carter, Emergency Medicine

Joe Cates, Vascular Surgeon

Ernest Cattaneo, Internal Medicine

Cindy Chang, Emergency Medicine

Scott Chapman, Cardiologist

Jonathan Chilton, Neurosurgeon

Scott Cook, Orthopedics

Mark Davidner, Oncologist

John Davis, Oncologist

Marie Delcambre, Internal Medicine

Richard Derman, Obstetrician-Gynecologist

Dennis Diederich, Nephrologist

Kevin Dishman, Internist

Gary Doolittle, Oncologist

Michael Driks, Infectious Diseases

David Duchene, Urologist

Michelle Dudzinski, Gynecological Oncologist

John Dunlap, Internal Medicine

Dan Durrie, Ophthalmologist

David Emmott, Urologist

Carol Fabian, Internal Medicine

Brett Ferguson, Oral-Maxillofacial Surgeon

Laura Fitzmaurice, Pediatric Emergency Medicine

Scott Folk, Infectious Diseass

Jameson Forster, Transplant Surgeon

Milton Fowler, Pediatrician

Brian Friedman, Cardiologist

Burrel Gaddy, Orthopedic Surgeon

Alan Gamis, Pediatric Oncologist/Hematologist

Thomas Geraghty, Plastic Surgeon

John Gianino, Neurosurgeon

Douglas Girod, Otolaryngologist

George Gittes, Pediatric Surgeon

Glenn Goldstein, Dermatologist

Michael Gorton, Cardiothoracic Surgeon

Rengasamy Gowdamarajan, Pediatric Cardiologist

Stephanie Graff, Oncologist

Nathan Granger, Family Medicine

Aaron Grantham, Cardiologist

Jared Grantham, Nephrologist

Matthew Gratton, Emergency Medicine

Tomas Griebling, Urologist

Stephen Griffith, Family Medicine

Trudi Grin, Pediatric Ophthalmologist

Harvey Grossman, Pediatrician

Dan Gurba, Orthopedic Surgeon

Philip Gutek, Plastic Surgeon

Robert Haas, Orthopedic Surgeon

Curt Hagedorn, Gastroenterologist/Hepatologist

Frederick Hahn, Jr., Otolaryngologist

John Hall, Dermatologist

Robert Hall, Neonatologist

Donald Hatton, Internist

Lisa Hays, Endocrinolgist

Roy Hegde, Cardiologist

Thomas Helling, Surgeon

Richard Hellman, Endocrinologist

John Helzberg, Gastroenterologist

Joseph Henry, Pulmonologist

Edward “Ted” Higgins, Jr., Vascular Surgeon

Rodney Hill, Pulmonologist

Mohan Hindupur, Cardiologist

Eric Hockstad, Cardiologist

Samuel Hoeper, Jr., Internal Medicine

George Whitfield Holcomb, Pediatric Surgeon

John Holkins, Cardiologist

Frank Holladay, Neurosurgeon

Larry Hollenbeck, Neurologist

Jeff Holzbeierlein, Urologist

Ken Huber, Cardilogist

John Hunkeler, Ophthalmologist

Verda Hunter, Gynecological Oncologist

Mary Anne Jackson, Pediatrician

Robert Jackson, Pediatrician

Amie Jew, Surgeon

Michael Johnston, Internal Medicine

Stephen Kaine, Pediatric Cardiologist

Ralph Kauffman, Pediatrician & Pharmacologist

Gregory Kearns, Pharmacologist

Jane Knapp, Pediatric Emergency Medicine

William Koller, Neurologist

D.J. Lakkireddy, Cardiologist

Dennis Lawlor, Pulmonologist

Willie Lawrence, Cardiologist

Graham Lee, Radiologist

Vincent Lem, Pulmonologist

Lori Lindstrom, Radiation Oncologist

Michael Liston, Cardiologist

Ted Lockwood, Aesthetic Surgeon

Gary Lofland, Pediatric Cardiac Surgeon

Michael Loggan, Pulmonologist

Charles Luetje, Otologist

Rodney Lyles, Reproductive Endocrinologist

Anthony Magalski, Cardiologist

James Maliszewski, Internal Medicine

Gerald Mancuso, Interventional Cardiologist

Vickie Massey, Oncologist

Ben McCallister, Cardiologist

Craig McClure, Interventional Radiologist

Thomas McCormack, Orthopedic Surgeon

Lon McCroskey, General & Vascular Surgeon

Patrick McGregor, General Surgeon

Joseph McGuirk, Oncologist

Richard McKittrick, Oncologist

James McMillen, Hospice, Palliative Care, Internist

Kendall McNabney, Surgeon

James Miller, Cardiothoracic Surgeon

Rauf Mir, Nephrologist

Randall Mitchem, Pulmonolgist

Michael Moncure, Trauma Surgeon

Michael Montgomery, Cardiologist

Patricia Mooney-Smith, Obstetrician-Gynecologist

Jill Moormeier, Oncologist

Richard Morgan, Palliative Care

Chuck Moylan, Pediatrician

Greg Muehlebach, Cardiothoracic Surgeon

J. Patrick Murphy, Pediatric Urologist

Jane Murray, Family Physician

Richard Muther, Nephrologist

Bryan Nelson, Pediatrician

Darryl Nelson, Family Physician

Marcus Neubauer, Hematologist/Oncologist

Kathleen Neville, Pediatric Oncologist

Paul O’Boynick, Neurologist

James O’Brien, Cardiovascular Surgeon

Mary O’Connor, Epidemiologist

James O’Keefe, Jr., Cardiologist

Scott Olitsky, Pediatric Ophthalmologist

Brad Olney, Pediatric Orthopedic Surgeon

Moytaba Olyaee, Gastroenteroligist

Steven Owens, Cardiologist

Rajesh Pahwa, Neurologist

Kent Palmer, Chief Medical Officer

Alexander Pak, Cardiothoracic Surgeon

Gerald Park, Urologist

Kelly Pendergrass, Oncologist

Chris Perryman, Internal Medicine

Joseph Petelin, Laparoscopic Surgeon

Susan Pingleton, Pulmonologist

William “Pete” Pingleton, Pulmonologist

Mark Plautz, Internal Medicine

Timothy Pluard, Oncologist

T.J. Rasmussen, Orthopedic Surgeon

Stephen Reintjes, Neurosurgeon

George Reisz, Pulmonologist

Brian Robb, Emergency Medicine

Charlie Roberts, Pediatric Gastroenterologist

Howard Rosen, Endocrinologist

Larry Rosen, Oncologist

William Rosenberg, Neurosurgeon

Howard Rosenthal, Orthopedic Oncologist

Larry Rues, Family Physician

Steve Russell, Emergency Medicine

Barry Rutherford, Interventional Cardiologist

Marilyn Rymer, Neurologist

Nelson Sabates, Ophthalmologist

Esmat Sadeddin, Gastroenterologist

Stephen Salanski, Family Medicine

Gary Salzman, Pulmonologist

Thomas Samuelson, Orthopedics

Timothy Schmitt, Transplant Surgeon

Jane Schwabe, Cardiothoracic Surgeon

Fred Seligson, Cardiothoracic Surgeron

Girish Shirali, Pediatric Cardiologist

Steven Simpson, Pulmonologist

Stephen Smalley, Radiologist

Shadrach Smith, Bariatric Medicine

Jason Stahl, Ophthalmologist

Daniel Stechschulte, Rheumatologist/Immunologist

Mark Steele, Emergency Medicine

David Steinhaus, Electrocardiologist

Tracy Stevens, Cardiologist

James Stewart, Internist/Geriatric Medicine

Stephanie Studenski, Geriatric Medicine

Michael Sweeney, Cardiologist

Peter Tadros, Cardiolgist

Sarah Taylor, Oncologist

Kim Templeton, Orthopedic Surgeon

Daryl Thompson, Internal Medicine/Neurologist

Mark Thompson, Radiation Oncologist

Brantley Thrasher, Urologic Oncologist

Terance Tsue, Otolaryngologist

Charles Van Way III, Thoracic Surgeon

Joe Waeckerle, Emergency Medicine

Jamie Wagner, Surgeon

Brad Warady, Pediatric Nephrologist

Jeff Waters, Pediatrician

Kathleen Weatherstone, Neonatologist

Michael Weaver, Emergency Medicine

Charles Weinstein, Neurologist

Jim Whitaker, Orthopedic Surgeon

Steven Whitfield, Cardiologist

Steve Williamson, Oncologist

Sandra Willsie, Pulmonologist/Intensivist

David Wilt, Internal Medicine

Gerald Woods, Hematologist/Oncologist