Integrated Technology and Smart Innovation

With the NHS facing a growing financial crisis, Althea has once again attracted press attention for the innovative cost-saving measures it offers hospitals.

David Rolfe, CEO of Althea UK & Ireland, has been interviewed by The Clinical Services Journal (CSJ) to discuss how Althea is helping hospitals make significant cash and efficiency savings each year.

CSJ, a major UK-based monthly magazine for healthcare professionals, talks about how the rising demand for care from a growing and ageing population has left many UK hospitals strapped for cash.

The general consensus is that the NHS needs more money, and a recent report produced by the Institute for Public Policy Research suggests this figure is an extra £50 billion a year above inflation by 2030 and a further £25 bn a year in productivity savings.

As a pioneering global organisation, Althea is driven by a commitment to provide better healthcare and is focused on improving patient outcomes. This is achieved by offering NHS trusts and private hospitals a range of technology solutions such as managed services, multi-vendor maintenance, clinical consumables management, and refurbished equipment sales/rentals.

“Althea was created when eight leading service providers, each with a long-established track record in their respective markets, joined forces,” said David.

“From the outset, the vision was to create the world’s first large-scale, vendor-independent provider and give hospitals a choice when it comes to the selection, installation and maintenance of equipment. Being entirely vendor-independent ensures that the company is not tied to any one manufacturer so that we can offer hospitals the most appropriate solution for their clinical needs.”

Today, Althea is a one-stop shop that aims to offer hospitals a high-quality, cost-effective alternative to original equipment manufacturers. With close to 3000 staff worldwide, the organisation is said to be the largest independent provider of medical equipment services, with 1.4 million medical devices under management in more than 1700 healthcare facilities.

The article spotlights on the University Hospitals of Leicester NHS Trust (UHL), one of the biggest and busiest NHS trusts in the country, to highlight how they are benefiting from Althea’s breadth of services.

“Our approach is to help them make direct savings by converting the lifetime variable costs of managing their critical equipment into efficient and predictable operational costs,” said David.

“We have the healthcare knowledge, clinical expertise and technical excellence to understand the market and to offer healthcare providers industry-leading services that deliver performance improvements.”

Click here to read the full article.

Althea out and about

Last year Althea attended a host of medical conferences in the UK and overseas. These included technology events such as RSNA and BMUS, which we visited to keep abreast of the latest technologies being released, as well as HCSA and HFMA where we exhibited as a key opinion leader to set future industry trends.

First on the list was RSNA 2018 in Chicago, where Althea’s Operations Director Andy Brown accompanied the technology team visiting manufacturers to confirm the Radiology technologies being released next year. The team looked at new equipment and technology on the market as well as upgrades to existing technologies and new software packages. In addition, there were lectures available on global research being carried out on medical advances in Radiology. This in-depth knowledge allows Althea to stay ahead of the game, advise customers on the best products available and continue to be the market-leading vendor-independent managed service provider.

Althea’s Technology team attended the 50th Annual Scientific Meeting of the British Medical Ultrasound Society (BMUS) in Manchester. Althea has 41 ultrasound replacements planned for 2019 and attending this meeting allows us to review the clinical capabilities of all of the systems available.

In November, Althea’s team exhibited at the HCSA (Health Care Supply Association) Annual Conference and Exhibition in Cardiff. The HCSA is dedicated to promoting the role and importance of staff engaged within NHS procurement and supply chain management and is affiliated with the Chartered Institute of Procurement and Supply (CIPS). This year the exhibition was all about ‘value’ – a thread that ran through all the sessions.

Althea’s messaging was focused on technology management savings through maintenance and managed services, and what Althea could do for NHS trusts. Speaking at the event was Althea’s UK Business Development Director Jason Long whose presentation looked at how the future might look for biomedical equipment management. Jason presented ideas around how to achieve value once all the easy cost saving wins had been achieved.

Finally, in December, Althea exhibited at HFMA Annual Conference 2018. This year’s annual conference, which is classed as the most important event in NHS finance, focused on the theme ‘Brighter Together’. The three-day congress gave Althea the opportunity to speak to some of the prominent figures in the NHS along with key policy makers, politicians, clinicians and professional and technical experts.

Asia watches Althea’s equipment in action

Althea were delighted to support Leicester’s Hospitals’ cardiologists and cardiac surgeons perform a live Transcatheter Aortic Valve Implantation (TAVI) procedure to colleagues across Asia.

The procedure, which was carried out using an array of Althea’s CT, MRI and ultrasound scanners, was transmitted live from the cardiac catheter lab at Glenfield Hospital. It was watched by 21,295 international health professionals from 36 countries as part of the 29th Great Wall International Congress of Cardiology and Asia Pacific Structural Symposium and China Structure Week.

Thanks to the internet, IT and the team working earlier than usual the procedure was performed live from 5am UK time. It was the first time a transmission was purely delivered online. Previously, satellite has been relied upon which is not as seamless.

The world-recognised TAVI procedure allows heart valves to be implanted using a catheter. The procedure is minimally invasive and means patients, particularly the elderly, do not have to undergo open-heart surgery.

Before the procedure the patient requires either a CT scan or an ultrasound to confirm the size of the aortic root and the degree of classification and competency of the valve.

Althea also procured the correct size of valve required for the procedure, specific to the patient’s anatomical specification.

Ruben Olivier explains: “Althea procured the item via the bespoke althea P2P product catalogue system and the supplied it in time for the scheduled procedure. We were also on hand to collect the item from the hospital delivery point to check when it arrived at the hospital to confirm it had arrived undamaged.”

“As part of our role we recorded the serial number and the device is tracked and traced within the Althea inventory management system. Once the valve is implanted, it is scanned with our point of care scanners and recorded against the patient ID number. This follows the NHS recommended Scan4Safety protocol.This allows for tracking the valve in the event of a MHRA recall or field safety notification.”

After the implant, the patient will undergo a secondary scan to assess the position of the valve to confirm the successful outcome of the procedure.

Althea have a monthly clinical governance meeting where the implanted items are monitored, and the continuous safety and quality of the implant is recorded.