Althea’s new clinical consumable management service

Download Leicester’s consumable management service case study here.

Althea has the proven capability and capacity to deliver a reliable, efficient, and patient-focussed clinical consumable management service (CMS). Althea’s CMS, which forms part of an outsourced managed service, can save NHS Trusts up to 30% on their clinical consumable and device expenditure on a vendor-neutral basis.

Althea has designed its own CMS IT infrastructure to provide integrated procurement, inventory management and procedure-level costings for Cardiology and Interventional Radiology services.  Althea is one of the largest independent buyers of clinical consumables and devices in the UK and has achieved economies of scale that lead to real procurement savings and cost avoidance for our NHS customers.  Althea has a catalogue of over 3,500 clinical consumables and devices sourced from 100+ suppliers in line with its ethos of vendor-independence and clinical choice.  Althea’s CMS dovetails clinical flexibility with operational efficiencies without compromising research and innovation.

“Althea has made our clinical services more efficient and more sustainable. They have improved the quality of our management data and significantly reduced our costs without compromising on quality or innovation.”
Darren Turner, General Manager, Cardiology – UHL

Althea CMS Savings (£K)

£1,255K Managed Service & Outsourcing Efficiencies
£254K Cost Avoidance
£898K Procurement Savings & Buying Power

Longstanding Partnership

Responsible for the Glenfield, General and Royal Infirmary hospitals, University Hospitals of Leicester NHS Trust (UHL) is one of the biggest and busiest NHS Trusts in the country. UHL serves the one million residents of Leicester, Leicestershire and Rutland as well as nationally-recognised specialist services including Cardiology and Interventional Radiology.

Althea’s original contract with UHL was signed in 2003 and was the first vendor-independent managed equipment service (MES) covering the funding, procurement, installation and management of £5M of Radiology and Cardiology equipment. Building upon the savings and efficiencies achieved, the Trust awarded Althea a second MES in June 2007 for a further £24M of equipment and associated facilities.

University Hospitals of Leicester (UHL)

In 2015, as an integrated part of the longstanding managed service at UHL, Althea launched its innovative CMS and now manages all the clinical consumables and devices for nine interventional catheter laboratories across UHL and the East Midlands Congenital Heart Centre.

Althea’s CMS ensures that high-quality clinical consumables and devices are provided to the Trust’s Interventional Radiology, Interventional Cardiology, and Electrophysiology suites in the right quantities at the right time. This enables UHL’s clinical teams to deliver compliant, sustainable, and patientcentric services.
In addition to providing operational efficiencies Althea’s CMS has reduced UHL’s consumables and devices spend by 29% compared to the previous year – a saving of £2.4M.
Without compromising clinical choice or vendor-led innovation, significant cash savings were achieved through:

  • procurement expertise and buying power,
  • cost avoidance techniques, and
  • managed service and outsourcing efficiencies.

Delivering Efficiencies & Innovations

Althea’s CMS ensures that clinical consumables and devices are provided in the quantities required for UHL’s high-quality clinical services to be sustained. The CMS includes full-time on-site stock management staff as well as a complete inventory management system which ensures there is zero stock obsolescence and a reduced on-site stock holding. Althea’s local team is supported by a central procurement and logistics function to further reduce UHL’s overheads. As consumables or devices are ordered a synchronous order for replacement stock is automatically generated and the associated cost assigned to the Trust’s patient-level costing system (PLICS) increasing efficiency and eliminating stock obsolescence.

UHL Efficiencies:

  • No stock wastage by managing stock expiry.
  • Real-time device consumption records.
  • Reduced on-site stock and associated storage facilities.
  • Reduced re-implantation rates through device lifetime tracking.

Althea’s CMS encourages NHS providers to: explore latest technologies, new products, and participate in clinical trials.

UHL Innovations:

  • Procedure-level costings through handheld scanners.
  • Introduction of leadless pacemakers.
  • First in UK & Ireland performing Topera® FIRMap® procedures.
  • One of three UK sites performing novel Acutus Medical AcQMap™
    3D mapping procedures.
  • First site in Europe to perform robotic ablation.
  • Limited market release site for Biosense Webster Carto® nMarQ®.
  • Limited release site for Thermocool SmartTouch® SF.
  • Training centre for St Jude Medical EnSite™ Array™.
  • Limited release site for St Jude Medical EnSite™ Precision.
  • All the cardiac interventional labs have access to integrated OCT
    co registration.
  • Screening centre for Boston Scientific Sub-Q implantable
    cardioverter-defibrillators.
  • Nurse-led implantation of diagnostic devices.
  • Paperless integrated device management system.

UHL Annual Procedure Stats

1,044 Pacemakers
208 Implantable cardioverter-defibrillators (ICD)
108 Cardiac resynchronisation therapy pacemakers (CRT-P)
186 Cardiac resynchronisation therapy defibrillators (CRT-D)
130 Transcatheter aortic valve implantations (TAVI) both apical and trans-femoral
3,500+ Percutaneous coronary interventions (PCI)

Althea proud to sponsor UHL Caring at its Best Awards

The University Hospitals of Leicester NHS Trust ‘Caring at its Best Awards’ took place on the evening of 29th September 2016 at The Athena, attended by almost 500 staff, volunteers and supporters including Althea’s Senior Commercial Manager & Associate Director – Managed Services, David Brand and Leicester General Manager, Robert Mason.

The awards recognise and reward Trust staff who are inspirational and committed to colleagues and their patients. The event included awards for: ‘We treat people how we would like to be treated’, ‘We do what we say we are going to do’, ‘We focus on what matters most’ and ‘Caring at its best’ which was a publicly nominated category. The ceremony saw an overall winner selected by their external judges from the finalists of the quarterly heats from throughout the year.

The team from Ward 41, Haematology, at the Royal Infirmary, were selected as winners of ‘We are one team and we are best when we work together’ category, proudly sponsored and presented by our staff representatives.

A huge well done to all of the winners!

HFMA Provider Conference 2016

Althea enjoyed another successful show at the Healthcare Finance Management Association (HFMA) Annual Provider Conference, which took place at the Chesford Grange Hotel, Warwickshire on 7th and 8th July 2016 and had a theme of ‘Creating Synergy’.

Althea recognises the importance of creating synergy within the NHS in order to support the radical changes it is facing as part of delivering the 5 year forward view, where it states that “Trusts will need to procure capital assets more efficiently, consider alternative methods of securing assets such as managed equipment services”. Asteral Select offers a bespoke, vendor-independent managed service with flexible arrangements to meet specific needs. Our service is proven to deliver measurable cost and efficiency savings.

Finance Directors and finance departments have a key role to play in this future, the conference hosted speakers who explained the models, shared the progress to date and featured real life case studies from those increasing effectiveness of healthcare for their populations. The exhibition allowed Asteral to interact with the delegates and showcase the beneficial features of Asteral Select.

The event saw around 35 exhibitors showcasing a range of different products and services to the 140 delegates who attended the two-day event.

The NHS England 5 Year Forward View can be found at here.

New managed service contract with Derby Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust

Althea is pleased to announce a partnership with Derby Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, in which it will provide diagnostic imaging and radiotherapy equipment.

The 10-year managed service contract, which has an optional 10-year extension, will include the robust management and high-quality maintenance of four linear accelerators and more than 160 Radiology assets through the single point-of-contact Service Centre, the provision of a clinical consumables management service, and a significant asset replacement programme which will see 18 new systems delivered by the end of the year.

Two fully-equipped mammography trailers have already been delivered to the Royal Derby Hospital, and several other state-of-the art clinical systems will be handed over before the end of the year. These include eight ultrasounds, a linear accelerator and associated oncology management and treatment planning systems, six x-ray systems and a gamma camera. All have been selected on a vendor-independent basis.

Derby Teaching Hospitals works to an ethos of ‘Taking Pride in Caring’, and aims to be a beacon for all that is best in 21st century healthcare. Althea firmly believes this contract supports that vision.

Kevin Downs, Director of Finance and Performance for the Trust, said, “We are delighted that the managed equipment service has now gone live and that staff and patients are benefitting from the investment in new technology – an investment made possible due to the financial savings achieved through a long-term partnership with the UK’s leading vendor-independent MES provider.”

Jason Long, Althea’s Business Development Director, commented, “We are delighted to have Derby as our latest managed equipment service customer. We share the Trust’s vision of taking pride in the service we deliver and epitomising quality.  Our service is an industry-leading solution that will support Derby deliver a safe, high-performing and efficient patient service.”

Asteral and MESA merger

Asteral is pleased to confirm that it is joining forces with Medical Equipment Solutions and Applications (MESA) to create a unified managed equipment and managed maintenance services Group (now called Althea). The merger will ensure providers in the NHS and across Europe will benefit from the Group’s unrivalled asset management and service expertise throughout the product lifecycle of high-end medical systems and other clinical medical devices.

MESA, based in Switzerland and founded in 2009, is the largest independent pan-European provider of diagnostic imaging engineering services and asset management solutions. Working across 12 countries including the UK, Italy, Germany, Poland and Spain, MESA serves more than 600 diagnostic imaging clinics and hospitals, whilst managing over 2,800 medical equipment systems and devices.  With forty years experience maintaining diagnostic imaging equipment, MESA brings the new Group a deep service culture coupled with a multi-vendor service model that complements the vendor-independent service that Asteral provides.

MESA Executive Chairman and founder said, “We are delighted to announce the combination of MESA and Asteral, which brings together two highly complementary businesses and highly skilled management teams. As a combined group, we will be in an even stronger position to help our customers deliver improved patient care by leveraging our expertise in the way that medical facilities are planned, procured, managed and maintained.”

Christopher Langley who becomes Special Advisor to the Board commented, “I am delighted that Asteral will benefit from this new relationship, which will allow Asteral to go from strength to strength, building on the significant growth of the past 3 years.”

Stephen Hodgson, Asteral’s Chief Operating Officer and founder, said: “The natural synergies that exist between Asteral and MESA will ensure that we continue to deliver cost-effective and high-quality managed equipment and managed maintenance services to healthcare providers in the UK.  The new Group will use its market scale and insight to leverage value for money, create new operational efficiencies and drive service innovations as we continue to seek to improve patient care through the effective management of medical equipment.”

Lancashire Teaching Hospitals renews maintenance contract

Althea is pleased to announce that Lancashire Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust has renewed its maintenance service for a further three years.  The new managed maintenance contract for diagnostic imaging equipment has been agreed via the London Procurement Partnership framework, and is further to the success of the previous two-year service which began in April 2012.

The new contract will provide the Trust with further cost savings and operational benefits including: unique vendor-neutral procurement expertise and advice; a single point-of-contact Service Centre for all service requests; guaranteed uptime; and improved detailed reporting on equipment performance.

Our maintenance service gives the flexibility to customise maintenance services to meet the clinical and financial needs of the service leads and Lancashire joins a growing number of Trusts who are realising the savings that Althea can offer them.  Althea now delivers its maintenance service to ten NHS Trusts in over eighteen hospital sites.

Jason Long, Business Development Director said, “We are delighted with the award of this contract – the renewal serves as testament to the success of our maintenance service and competitive pricing.  Our range of services delivers measurable cost and efficiency savings for the management and maintenance of critical medical equipment.  Hospitals are able to make vital savings on their non-pay spend and remodel the way they plan the maintenance of their medical facilities, achieving improved efficiency and productivity.”

Delivering the balance of quality and cost savings within the NHS

“Althea’s current range of services is proven to achieve the right balance between delivering high quality services and meeting financial targets.  Althea offers robust, unbiased support…”

Althea’s solutions can help drive down NHS procurement costs

As a recent report by Ernst and Young shows price variations of as much as 300% across some NHS Trusts, Althea offers solutions to some of the biggest procurement challenges facing the NHS.

In February 2011 the National Audit Office concluded that better procurement could save the Health Service half a billion pounds a year and a recent study by Ernst and Young highlighted that approximately £500 million a year is being lost due to poor procurement processes and decisions.  Ernst and Young spokesman, Joe Stringer, commented that the findings raised “…concerns about price variation and spending in the procurement of NHS suppliers.”  The report further highlighted that prices paid for basic hospital supplies and services varied by as much as 300% depending on the Trust.

The National Audit Office and Public Accounts Committee have both similarly criticised that ‘opportunities for efficiencies’ were being missed due to the new Foundation Trust status meaning hospitals procure their supplies more independently.  The danger of this comes where a Trust has paid a higher price for the same equipment and will then continue to be charged higher prices instead of a fair price being tailored to the Trust’s requirements.

Jason Long, Althea’s Business Development Director, understands these concerns and comments, “Price variation throughout the NHS is an issue which is having a profound effect on what are strained and dwindling budgets.  In order to make significant savings Trusts need to evaluate procurement processes and consider other more cost-effective options.  We understand the challenges that Trusts are facing in the new NHS economy which is why we created a portfolio of highly-focused solutions that aim to address the current clinical and financial challenges.  These solutions deliver significant cost savings and improve equipment performance & lifecycle management leaving staff free to focus on patient care and treatment.”

Althea obtains wholesale dealer’s licence for the supply of contrast media

Althea, the leading vendor independent provider of medical equipment services, is now licenced to purchase contrast media associated with imaging equipment, having been awarded a Wholesale Dealer’s Licence (WL35578) from the Medicine Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA).

Contrast media is a regulated and strictly controlled consumable used in diagnostic imaging and the award follows six months of background investigations, planning and external training in Good Distribution Practice by the MHRA.  A host of new controlled documents have been implemented across Asteral in line with the existing Quality Management System ISO9000:2008, with new procedures and processes established to ensure the effective monitoring of contrast media from factory to client.

“We are really pleased to be able to offer contrast media as part of our healthcare service provision.  Not only is it further proof that we are a responsible business capable of managing the most complex of consumables, but it also demonstrates our hard work and commitment to meet the needs of healthcare today.  This license provides us with yet another vehicle to reduce costs for the NHS and we are looking forward to continuing our work with Trusts to meet both quality and financial targets going forwards”.