Blog: David Rolfe on Althea becoming world’s largest, independent managed service healthcare provider

“It’s an honour to announce that following the recent acquisition and integration of TBS, Althea has now become the world’s largest, independent managed service provider for the acute healthcare sector.

TBS are a world-leading biomedical and endoscopy company, so the merger is an extremely important step for us strategically.  We can now offer a wider range of services in biomed, endoscopy and in diagnostic imaging across all brands and modalities.

From the outset, Althea’s vision was to create the world’s first large-scale vendor-independent service provider.  The company is made up of over 3000 staff with the healthcare knowledge, clinical expertise, and technical excellence to understand the market and to offer healthcare providers industry-leading services that deliver performance improvements.  The result is a one-stop shop that offers hospitals a high-quality, independent, cost-effective alternative.

We offer hospitals efficiency and flexibility.  We can save them money by doing things in a smarter, more innovative way.  We are customer-orienteered and strive to take that extra step, each and every time. For example, we offer an out-of-hours service as standard.  We don’t disrupt clinical services, rather we free-up clinical time so that it can remain focused on patient care.

Being independent is vital as it means we are not tied to any one manufacturer or supplier and can offer all our customers the most efficient solution for their clinical needs.  This includes integrating our unique consumables management service which ensures life-changing procedures are supported by the most clinically-appropriate consumables in the right place, at the right time.

There is no doubt at all that we are disrupting the market for maintenance and managed services, and the original equipment manufacturers who once dominated the market have a good reason to be worried.  For the first time there is a large, innovative company that is safe and reliable.  We have an exciting twelve months ahead of us and I am excited for the future.”

David Rolfe, CEO of Althea UK & Ireland

Althea’s biomed merger ensures position as world’s largest independent hospital service provider

Althea is the world’s largest, vendor-independent managed service and maintenance provider for the acute healthcare sector, following the recent acquisition and integration of the TBS Group.

In the UK and Ireland, the healthcare service company offers NHS and private hospitals a range of technology solutions including managed services, multi-vendor maintenance, integrated clinical consumables management as well as equipment sales and rentals.

The integration of TBS GB means that Althea can now add endoscopy to complement its existing expertise in biomed and diagnostic imaging equipment.  The company now offers a breadth and quality of service that no-one else in the market can match.

David Rolfe, UK&I Chief Executive Officer comments: “TBS is a world-leading biomedical and endoscopy company, so the merger is an extremely important step for us strategically.  Integrating these services into our extensive portfolio means we are now able to offer a wider range of services than any other provider.”

Althea was originally created when seven leading service providers, each with a long-established track record in their respective markets, joined forces.

From the outset, their 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 Althea is not tied to any one manufacturer and can offer hospitals the most efficient solution for their clinical needs.

Today, the company is a one-stop shop that offers hospitals a high-quality, cost-effective alternative to original equipment manufacturers.  Althea’s in-house engineers maintain equipment directly to the highest standards underpinned by ISO-certified quality management systems.

David added: “We offer hospitals efficiency and flexibility. We have the healthcare knowledge, clinical expertise, and technical excellence to offer healthcare providers industry-leading services that deliver efficiency savings and performance improvements.  Our mission is to save our customers money by doing things in a smarter, more innovative way.”

Improving patient experience at Peterborough City Hospital

Following the recent expansion of the Peterborough City Hospital’s Radiotherapy department, Althea and Medirest, another one of the Trust’s providers, have sponsored one of two ‘hotboards’ which were installed free of charge in the department corridor. What was previously a very clinical white space which patients walk down prior to receiving treatment has now been transformed by artwork from three local primary schools the Trust have engaged with on this project – Nene Valley Primary School, Woodston Primary School and Orton Wistow Primary Schools.

The department expansion which was facilitated by North West Anglia NHS Foundation Trust’s 35 year Althea managed equipment service added an additional linear accelerator which is used to treat cancer patients and will enable more patients to be treated locally rather than travelling over an hour from Peterborough.

Althea changes UK market as the new world-class independent provider

Signalling the most historic change in the medical equipment service industry since the introduction of vendor-independence, eight leading service providers have unified operations under a single brand – Althea. This combination of independent service companies, including Asteral, MESA, and TBS, has significantly increased the choice hospitals now have when they procure equipment and maintenance.

Focused on efficient solutions and reducing whole-life costs, Althea offers an alternative to the traditional original equipment manufacturers. Entirely vendor-independent, Althea’s services cover all hospital areas – from radiology to radiotherapy, from cardiology to biomed.

Althea’s in-house engineers maintain equipment directly to the highest standards underpinned by ISO-certified quality assurance.

With close to 3,000 staff worldwide, Althea is now the largest independent provider of medical equipment services with 1.4 million medical devices under management in more than 1,700 healthcare facilities. Althea focuses on its breadth and quality of service, freeing its customers to focus on patient care.

In the UK & Ireland, Althea offers sustainable healthcare technology solutions including:

  • Diagnostic imaging maintenance
  • Endoscopy maintenance
  • Biomed maintenance and training services
  • Managed services in radiology, cardiology, radiotherapy, endoscopy and biomed
  • Clinical consumable management service
  • Rental of mobile scanners, ultrasounds and endoscopes
  • Pre-owned equipment – buying and selling
  • Ultrasound probe and MR coil evaluation/repair

Althea’s engineers, technicians, and customer service specialists already support over 300 hospitals deliver financial savings and operational efficiencies, whilst making a positive difference to patient experience.

The companies that have been bought together by Althea are:

  • Asteral – managed service provider including integrated cardiology and interventional radiology clinical consumables management
  • MESA, MVS, Spintech, and Sigil – diagnostic imaging multi-vendor maintenance service providers
  • TBS and Higèa – biomed multi-vendor service providers
  • Ed Sloan & Associates – refurbished imaging equipment, spare parts, and engineer training.

Within the new group, an unparalleled network of diagnostic imaging Centres of Excellence have been established in Reading (UK), Milan (Italy), Mikołów (Poland), and Nashville (US) providing Althea with ISO13485-accredited multi-vendor engineer training and spare parts testing facilities.

David Rolfe, UK&I CEO comments:  “Asteral, MESA, and TBS have been pioneering in the UK & Ireland for over 15 years.  Now, as Althea, we have the capability and infrastructure to support clinical teams across all hospital departments – from cardiology to endoscopy, from an infusion pump to an MR scanner.  We use our scale and experience to leverage and deliver high-quality medical equipment, maintenance and clinical consumables in order to optimise patient outcomes, while providing the best possible value at all times.”

Alessandro Dogliani, Group CEO of Althea comments:  “We are at a tipping-point in our industry. There is now so much complex medical equipment in service in hospitals, clinics and health centres that their need for an independent technology partner is essential.  We have launched a company that brings together pioneers and experts from across the industry. Althea can offer a breadth and quality of service that no-one else in our market can match.  We are committed to working with customers to improve healthcare services.”

Althea acquires TBS Group, a European leading provider of clinical engineering integrated solutions

Althea (previously Pantheon Healthcare Group) announced it has completed the purchase of TBS Group S.p.A. (TBS), a European leading provider of clinical engineering integrated solutions.

The acquisition of TBS represents an important step in the consolidation strategy of Althea, who aims to continue the expansion process that was already started by the management for the strengthening of the presence within the existing markets and the entrance in new geographical areas.

Althea and TBS Groups share a strong presence in the Italian market, one of the most sophisticated and evolved markets in Europe, and a strong international ambition, with a complementary presence within European reference markets (UK, France, Spain) and in the US, India and Turkey. The two players have a complementary offer of integrated solutions which will allow to develop a complete range of services to add value to hospitals and diagnostic centres, more and more focused on their core business, seeking efficient and integrated solutions for managing complex medical technologies.

Althea was born in 2014 from the combination of Asteral Limited and MESA Group Holdings GmbH with the Permira funds backing and grew through further 11 acquisitions across Europe and USA. In just a few years, Althea has become one of the main providers of healthcare technology management services in Europe. It has strengthened its management team and successfully integrated the competences of the acquired companies by centralising the supply chain and by creating the only multi-country hub of excellence in the sector, dedicated to the formation and the management of high technology equipment. The Group, led by the CEO Alessandro Dogliani, now operates in 15 countries, managing more than 475,000 medical equipment across over 650 healthcare services which it supports with its pan-European logistic network.

TBS headquarters in Trieste will become a hub of excellence for research and development activities of the integrated group, not only in the existing biomedical technologies, but also for the new frontier of confluence with IT and ICT. Althea will leverage TBS’s competencies to further innovate its clinical engineering activities and ICT integrated solutions, with the goal of developing more sophisticated services for the management of big data and clinical data, also maintaining and strengthening TBS’s collaborations with primary Universities and International Research Institutes, which represent excellence in the bioengineering and innovation fields.

Alessandro Dogliani, Chief Executive Officer of Pantheon, commented: “I am glad of the success of the acquisition which demonstrates the effectiveness of the project from which it originated and unites two excellent groups in a growing and key sector for the efficient and effective management of healthcare technologies in hospitals and in European clinics. It is another important step in the right direction taken by the group and the team that I am proud to lead”.

Diego Bravar, Chairman and Founder of TBS Group, added: “The new partner will allow TBS to carry on its industrial growth and innovation development being part of an outstanding group to which TBS will contribute with its distinctive competences. I believe the new group has many development potentials, both in Italy and above all abroad and I am convinced that the combination of TBS with Pantheon will enhance this growth”.

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)

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.

5 years of Peterborough City Hospital

Peterborough City Hospital, part of Peterborough and Stamford Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, celebrated its 5-year anniversary this month, with a fun-filled, family-friendly open day held for the public on Saturday 21st November.  More than 600 people attended the event where staff gave their time for free to showcase each department’s success to members of the public.

The day allowed visitors to enter parts of the hospital which are usually prohibited, giving them a ‘behind the scenes’ look into how different parts of the hospital operate.  A number of activities took place throughout the day, including a giant game of Operation, lessons in taking blood, and children were encouraged to bring their teddies to the teddy bear clinic where they could have them x-rayed by the diagnostic imaging team.  Funded by Althea, cakes, stickers and booklets were also given out to guests.

We are proud to have sponsored the hospital’s celebrations having worked with the hospital since before it opened in November 2010.  Althea inputted into the design of all Radiology rooms, and ensured there was a smooth transfer and relocation of assets from Peterborough District Hospital.  Althea continues to deliver a managed equipment service replacing multiple pieces of diagnostic imaging, radiotherapy and biomed equipment on pre-agreed lifecycles, delivering all planned preventative and reactive maintenance, as well as managing the on-site biomed team – all examples of the flexibility of our managed services.

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.”