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Althea installs two state-of-the-art 3D mammography units at Derby Hospital

Two state-of-art 3D mammography systems that offer women a more comfortable breast exam experience have been installed at the University Hospitals of Derby and Burton NHS Foundation Trust.

The technology – GE Senographe Pristina Mammography System – was installed by Althea as part of the Trust’s Managed Equipment Service (MES) contract.

The upgraded facilities include a tomosynthesis, biopsy and contrast enhancement – features that the hospital’s old equipment didn’t have. The extra additions enable the Royal Derby team at UHDB’s Royal Derby Hospital site to be at the forefront of technology and research enabling the people of Derby to get the best diagnostic care.

The Senographe Pristina mammography system was designed to ease anxiety of patients as they enter the exam room. The new, inviting mammography promotes a sense of calm and has redesigned patient comfort to ensure women are comfortable during their examination.

Having these capabilities on both pieces of equipment enables patients in Derby to have multiple elements of care in one visit, rather than having to come back for the biopsy on a separate occasion. Clinicians also benefit from these installations as they increase the Trust’s scope of practice and meet requirements for continued professional development.

Lee Chlechowicz, Breast Screening and PACS Clinical Manager, added: “The new pieces of equipment are ergonomically designed and has enhanced capabilities which enables our patients to have a more comfortable and comprehensive diagnostic experience in a single visit, rather than having to come back for the biopsy on a separate occasion. Our clinicians and radiographers also benefit from these installations as they increase our scope of practice and meet requirements for continued professional development.”

Althea has a 10-year contract with the Trust which started in 2014.

Pictured left to right: Jordan Reid (Senior Radiographer), Jean Bonsall (Superintendant Radiographer), Fiona Oliver (Senior Radiographer) & Elaine Lewis (Superintendant Radiographer).

Althea installs two state-of-the-art Radiology Equipment at Peterborough City Hospital

Althea is delighted to have installed two brand new Radiology equipment at Peterborough City Hospital. Both replacements were part of the hospitals ongoing Managed Equipment Service (MES) contract.

The first replacement was an interventional suite in December 2018, which included the installation of the Philips Allura Clarity FD20.

The replacement plan involved the clinical team revising the layout of the room to allow a better work flow. The lighting was also upgraded to LED within the main theatre to provide better light for all users – a change which has impacted positively on clinicians’ day-to-day working environments.

Throughout the installation Althea and the Trust worked closely together to keep clinical downtime to a minimum and limit any disruption during the build phase of the project.

The Interventional Suite is used to carry out angiograms, stenting, embolisations, IVF filter insertions and nephrograms. It is currently on a 7-year lifecycle replacement scheme within the MES.

Neil Meadows from the trust commented: “This new FD20 machine is far superior to our previous machine, with very positive feedback from the Radiologists and Clinicians, we have also seen a reduction in dose that the patient receives, which is very positive.”

The second installation, which was completed in March 2019, was the wide bore Radiotherapy CT used to plan treatment for cancer patients.

It was vital this project ran to schedule to avoid delays in planning patient’s radiotherapy treatments. The Radiotherapy Department was able to work in conjunction with the diagnostic team in Radiology to share the diagnostic CT throughout the installation.

Althea hosts Italian interns at Peterborough City Hospital

Althea are delighted to be hosting two Italian interns at Peterborough City Hospital as part of a four-month work placement at the hospital.

Luca Burla and Lorenzo Serschen came to the UK on the 10th February and will be staying until the 25th June working with the Althea team based on-site.

The medical engineer interns are both studying Biomedical Engineering in Trieste, North East Italy, but wanted to come to the UK to put their knowledge into action within a clinical setting.

Under the guidance of Clinical Equipment Manager Carla Wood, the pair are working to MHRA Management of Medical Device guidelines which is what is expected onsite.

“It’s been great to have them join our team and be able to give them so much diverse training”, said Carla.

“We deliver a full MES contract at Peterborough, covering both biomedical and DI, which means they have had the opportunity to work on a range of equipment. Everything from thermometers to state-of-the-art diagnostic imaging equipment.”

As well as learning more about how a UK hospital system works, they have also been able to use and test a variety of machines, as well as gain vast experience from the wider Althea team.

For example, they have learnt more about the role of the librarian, a position that doesn’t exist in Italy, how they operate and their importance. They have also met with Francesco Capello, an ultrasound engineer that studied on the same course a couple of years ago, who is teaching them about ultrasound scanners and probes.

Luca said: “We are really enjoying our time here in Peterborough and have had the opportunity to check our abilities in a real-life clinical setting. At the beginning it was a little but difficult as we had to learn different work rhythms, culture and language, but now we are settled in we are learning so much from the experience. Thank you to everyone for their kindness and support.”

Spotlight on Althea’s MR training

Training is a huge part of Althea’s culture. Whether it’s being trained as a new starter or developing skills for a different role, internal training plays a key part.

Mark McArthur is Althea’s Modality Coach (MR) and following years of experience and his dual role working as Tech Support and Training Specialist across Europe, he is able to pass on his vast knowledge to MRI field service engineers.

At Theale we are extremely lucky to have a Centre of Excellence in MR which is accessed by Althea employees from around the world,” explains Mark.

“We have fully functional Siemens MR systems that we can use for in-depth training, testing parts and coils, as well as showing customers when they visit our head office. It is a wonderful facility that we can use in so many ways to help people learn and develop new skills.”

The MR courses that Mark runs combine a mixture of classroom-based learning and practical workshops. The service engineers are taught to fix the problem remotely by diagnosing the issue on the phone whilst speaking to the customer. If it cannot be diagnosed remotely then a part is ordered and fixed onsite –  one visit, one fix.

A lot of the courses we do are two weeks long, so they are very in-depth. In the morning we cover lots of theory and then do more practical activities in the afternoon. There is a big focus on troubleshooting as I have found that most engineers learn more by going through the process of diagnosing a problem and finding the solution. That way when they are actually faced with the same fault in the field, they know exactly what to do.”

Mark explains that what he enjoys most about the role is that no two days are the same and he gets to work with people with different industry backgrounds.

A perfect example of this was on the Aera/Skyra Systems Course we ran recently. There was someone who has worked for an OEM for over 25 years. Despite their vast experience and knowledge of systems they still learn something new every day.

“We also have a trainee graduate, straight from Sheffield Hallam University, who had been trained by Althea in-house from scratch. They are now able to put their theory into practice by learning on the job from the more experienced members of the team.”

“The third was a new starter, who hasn’t worked for an OEM but has worked in industry and brought with them different knowledge to the team. Three very different paths but all coming together to support one another and learn from each other’s knowledge. It’s fantastic that we have such a great resource here at Althea and I am lucky to meet so many different people from across the company. I really do have the best job in the world!”

Althea & Samsung Complete Leicester’s Digital Transformation

March 2019 saw the end of CR Radiography at Leicester General Hospital’s (LGH) Radiology Department with the installation of two Samsung GM85 state-of-the-art DR Mobiles and the last of three GC85 fully automated X-ray rooms. Supported by Althea, LGH’s team reviewed all available systems on the market and decided on the Samsung GM85 units.

Through their vendor-independent managed service with Althea, the hospital has selected three Samsung GC85 fully automated rooms, and two Samsung GM85 mobiles. All of this digital equipment reduces physical stress on users, improves patient throughput and delivers images of superb quality. The GC85 is a world-beating, fully-automated, digital suite designed to reduce physical stress on users, increase patient throughput and deliver superb quality images.

The new equipment features Samsung’s intuitive 3-step workflow which takes the user easily through worklist, acquisition and image review.

Going forward LGH will be able to share their lightweight detectors across the department’s Samsung equipment – fixed and mobile – adding greater flexibility and reducing costs. The pioneering detectors offer a high DQE, so low dose, but still maintain the ability to deliver the highest quality images.

Andy Mear, Plain Film Superintendent, says “The installation of our new Samsung mobiles completes our transformation to a fully DR department; the whole process was managed superbly by both MIS and Althea”.

Francesca Evans, Chief Technologist says “Taking the jump and decommissioning all of the CR equipment was exhilarating, but comforting knowing that the Samsung equipment is very reliable. The equipment is easy to use, so making the whole department part of the same manufacturer was an obvious choice”.

Althea is the world’s largest, vendor-independent managed service and maintenance provider for the acute healthcare sector.

Their service includes a guaranteed long-term capital replacement programme which covers all of the Trust’s diagnostic imaging equipment including plain x-ray rooms and mobile x-ray systems.

All equipment installations were planned and project-managed by Althea’s in-house implementation and technology experts and were delivered on time and on budget.

David Rolfe, UK&I Chief Executive Officer added “We are delighted to have completed the Samsung installations at the hospital and have been able to make such an impact for clinicians and patients. Being entirely vendor-independent ensures Althea is not tied to any one manufacturer and can offer hospitals the most efficient solution for their specific clinical needs.”

Pictured with Tony Rogers, Account Manager for MIS, are members of Leicester General’s Imaging team.

Althea installs ‘first of its kind’ Cone Beam CT Scanner at University Hospitals of Leicester

The world’s newest head & neck cone beam computed tomography (CBCT) scanner, featuring patented Metal Artefact Reduction, a 120kV generator and the very latest advances in radiographer assistance, has been installed at Leicester Royal Infirmary (LRI).

Installation of the Carestream CS 9600 CBCT at LRI was facilitated by their long-term vendor-independent managed service provider Althea, working in partnership with Hulbert Dental ICT – UK sector specialist for Carestream Dental.

LRI is the first UK hospital to introduce the technology after being chosen as the only site worldwide, to undertake clinical verification of this new CBCT platform, specifically targeted around medical sector requirements.

As an important evolution on established dental CBCT systems, the CS 9600 allows clinicians to scan more than just teeth or MaxFacs regions, adding approval for Cervical Spine and Scaphoid imaging. Output images are automatically transferred to PACS along with user-defined recons, all in DiCOM format. The CS 9600 can also perform straightforward 2D OrthoPanTomograms and it even remembers the individual patient demographics, further improving workflow for follow-up imaging.

The CS 9600 Cone Beam CT scanner has similar geometry and footprint to an OPT machine, maximising the use of increasingly limited real-estate. For many images the radiation dose to the patient is a fraction of that of a multi-slice CT scanner and it is quicker to use, reducing the patient visit from as much as 15 minutes, to around 5 minutes in total.

LRI was chosen specifically to put the machine through its paces in performing large volume CT scans of the Sinuses, Temporal bones and Skull Base. The scanner’s minimum voxel size of 75 microns gives these examinations superb image resolution. The new scanner will be used in the diagnosis and planning of Oral and ENT surgery, as well as the re-direction of a sizable proportion of its Sinus and Temporal Bone imaging from a busy conventional CT service, resulting in a Cost Improvement Plan with significant savings over the financial year.

Colin Ross, Radiology Site Manager, said “Before the CS9600, we were using the CS9300. We really liked the CS9300, but the CS9600 has many advantages over it. The CS9600 is very easy to use with patient positioning being particularly intuitive. The CS9600 also has a maximum KvP of 120 rather than 90 and offers significantly larger Fields Of View.”

Service Medical Lead Dr Ram Vaidhyanth, said “The high-resolution mode combined with small field of view is ideal for temporal bone imaging. Metal artefact reduction algorithm is very useful in both dental and sinus imaging.”

Tony Hulbert, Director at HULBERT Dental ICT, commented on the experience: “It has been a great pleasure to work with the team at LRI throughout the validation process, with much credit due to the radiographers and radiologists in Balmoral Xray. It is thanks to their positive and valuable feedback, that we take the CS 9600 forward with great confidence in what could well be a tipping-point in the application of CBCT technology.”

Althea is the world’s largest, vendor-independent managed service and maintenance provider for the acute healthcare sector. The company delivers a Managed Equipment Service (MES) to UK and Ireland hospitals such as the University Hospitals of Leicester update and improve their technology whilst managing the day-to-day concerns of running a department. This includes maintenance and breakdowns and on-going replacements throughout the term of the contract.

David Rolfe, UK&I Chief Executive Officer, added “We spend a huge amount of time with clinicians at LGH to understand how their department works, what their clinicians require, the procedures they undertake and what all of this means for the future. 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.”

STUDY EVENING TO BE HELD:
University Hospitals of Leicester will be holding a free study evening on Wednesday 10th April from 4 to 7pm. Topics include advances in Cone Beam CT, improvements in image quality and diagnosis, and tips for writing the business case for procurement of a Cone Beam CT. For a place, please email: colin.ross@uhl-tr.nhs.uk

Pictured left to right: Mike Sinkala (Reporting Radiographer), Denise Gill (Superintendant Radiographer), Colin Ross (Site Manager LRI), Dr Ram Vaidhyanath (Consultant Radiologists), Francesca Evans (Chief Technologist, Althea) & Tony Hulbert (Hulbert Dental ICT)

Althea and Samsung Collaborate to Benefit X-ray Services in Leicester

Althea has delivered state-of-the-art imaging systems to Leicester General Hospital (LGH), through their long-term vendor-independent managed service.

The managed service includes a guaranteed planned capital replacement programme, which covers all of the hospitals plain X-ray rooms.

As part of this agreement, Althea has now installed the 2nd of the Samsung GC85 DR imaging systems on time and on budget. All equipment installations are planned, and project managed by Althea’s Implementation & Technology experts. LGH chose the new Samsung GC85 after reviewing Althea’s summary of all available systems on the market.

The GC85 is a world beating, fully automated, digital suite designed to reduce physical stress on users, increase patient throughput and to deliver superb quality images.

The new equipment features Samsung’s intuitive 3 step workflow which takes the user easily through worklist, acquisition and review. LGH will be able to share their lightweight detectors across all the departments Samsung equipment, adding greater flexibility and reducing costs. The pioneering detectors offer a high DQE, so low dose, but still maintain the ability to deliver the highest quality images.

Andy Mear, Plain Film Superintendent, says “The installation of our second Samsung room went very smoothly and we have seen huge benefits to our patients from the transition to DR which was superbly supported by Althea and the MIS applications team. This room significantly benefits the staff due to the reduced physical effort required to operate the equipment.“​​

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.