Althea delivers replacement radiology department at Taunton and Somerset trust

Vendor-neutral managed equipment service agreement sees major overhaul of radiology equipment

In 2017, a 10-year partnership managed equipment service (MES) deal was signed between Althea and Taunton and Somerset NHS Foundation Trust, which runs Musgrove Park Hospital.

And, two years into the contract, Musgrove Park has seen a massive overhaul of its radiology service.

The department has had a total redesign to help improve clinical services, enhancing staff workflow and the patient experience.

David Rolfe, chief executive of Althea UK and Ireland, said: “Understanding on-the-ground requirements and working closely with clinical staff is key, so we assigned a dedicated service manager to the hospital.

“Under the contract existing equipment is immediately covered by our Customer Care Centre (CCC), based at our head office in Theale, providing 24/7 specialist call handlers to manage any breakdowns that occur. Our specialist technology team then came in to manage the equipment replacements.”

We are proud to offer a vendor-neutral managed service which has been tailored to meet the hospital’s specific needs

An equipment replacement plan was agreed with the trust to manage which assets are replaced and when, allowing the department to keep running an efficient clinical service, with minimal disruption.

A lot of the Musgrove Park equipment was nearing obsolescence, or beyond recommended its service life, which created concerns surrounding performance and reliability.

Althea’s clinical-choice contract gives the overall decision-making for equipment selection to the clinical team, supported by vendor-independent information, analysis and advice from Althea’s technologists.

This vendor independence and the company’s scale and expertise enables hospitals to select best-of-breed technologies from a variety of manufacturers while maintaining the commercial and logistic benefits of having one supplier.

The first set of equipment to be replaced at the hospital was X-ray machines.

This modality includes X-ray systems based in the main department and used for a large number of patients, from inpatients to outpatients and GP walk-ins.

The aging X-ray rooms were replaced with state-of-the-art Samsung GC85 systems. These machines are top-of-the-range systems, with full automation and image stitching.

The automation of the machines will improve patient through-put and also the manual handling demands on the radiographers, which should have a positive effect on staff wellbeing.

Mobile X-ray systems were also replaced.

These move around the hospital and go up to the wards to take images of patients.

Two Samsung GM85 systems were chosen for their slim, ergonomic and lightweight nature.

Althea was able to work with the clinical teams to source the right equipment to suit them and their patients – it wasn’t a case of purchase the cheapest equipment. Instead we ensured that we sourced the most-appropriate equipment for the hospital and its patients

Another mobile unit for the Special Baby Care Unit was also purchased.

This Fuji Nano system is ideal as it is smaller and more compact so can move around the incubators with ease.

Further equipment replacements included two mobile intensifier units, which were replaced with Philips Healthcare BV Pulseras.

These machines are used in theatres to give full diagnosis imaging when surgeons are operating.

One of the systems has extra capability, allowing the team to use the machine in a vascular setting.

The ultrasound department has also seen a change.

An extra ultrasound unit – Philips Affiniti 70 – has been added to the portfolio.

This will help with the increase in service demand for interventional procedures.

A Fujifilm Sonosite X-Porte machine was also installed to enable more bedside procedures to be carried out, rather than patients having to be moved around the department.

And the general imaging department saw installation of a GE Logiq E9; while the maternity unit now has a Canon Aplio i600 system, which features superb microvascular imaging.

“The most-exciting development and change is the re-design of the whole imaging department, including the move of the DEXA department into an old disused room,” said Rolfe.

“Althea’s design services are fully aligned with ISAS’s patient-focused assessment and accreditation programme and aim to improve patient experience and provide a staff working environment conducive to maximising clinical time.”

The new DEXA machine – a GE Lunar iDXA bone densitometer – is an advanced system which offers high-clarity, precision and image resolution on the density of bones. The move of this machine into a different room also made available a space to create an additional CT scanner suite.

And it enabled the trust to redesign and add additional equipment to its portfolio, including the installation of a new MRI scanner and injector.

Working with Althea and moving different teams around into new purpose-built facilities has allowed us to create a modern, bespoke, four-room ultrasound department, as well as an additional third MRI suite and six new radiologist reporting bays

The scanner, a Siemens 1.5T Magnetom Aera was charitably funded and officially launched by Her Royal Highness The Countess of Wessex.

Rolfe said:“Althea was able to work with the clinical teams to source the right equipment to suit them and their patients – it wasn’t a case of purchase the cheapest equipment. Instead we ensured that we sourced the most-appropriate equipment for the hospital and its patients.

“In the case of the MRI, the Siemens Aera fitted that category, and we were pleased to have procured this scanner, ensuring it was money well spent for the department.”

Having a third MRI scanner means clinicians can perform more of the most-complex scans than ever before.

And this is particularly important as the hospital has seen an annual 10% increase in patients who need an MRI.

The scanner also helps to provide diagnosis for patients who may have breast cancer, neurological conditions, cardiac problems, tumours, spinal injuries, and musculoskeletal disorders.

In the coming months the existing CT scanner will be updated to a GE Revolution EVO model.

The new technology and software will give the department faster scan times and greater patient throughput.

Rolfe said:“We are proud to offer a vendor-neutral managed service which has been tailored to meet the hospital’s specific needs.

“This includes round-the-clock maintenance as well as long-term asset replacementand is the most-cost-effective way to ensure patients and clinicians have access to the latest diagnostic technology in first-class, patient-focused facilities.”

Adam Turner, radiology operational manager at the trust, added: “Working with Althea and moving different teams around into new purpose-built facilities has allowed us to create a modern, bespoke, four-room ultrasound department, as well as an additional third MRI suite and six new radiologist reporting bays. In addition to this, the new build has created both ‘in and outpatient’ waiting facilities and additional office space.”

“The installation of a second Siemens Aera MRI scanner was greatly required and will now remove a bottleneck in our waiting lists for MRI patients.”

With a larger demand on our imaging services, it is reassuring to know that our existing equipment has all been refreshed as it means we can continue to keep up with new radiological techniques

But it’s not just new installations that Althea co-ordinates. The company is also responsible for the provision of high-quality maintenance for all radiology assets at the hospital, including the existing equipment from before the MES was agreed.

Should any faults occur, the trust calls Althea’s Customer Care Centre. It then provides a swift response and keeps the trust updated with progress.

Turner concludes: “It has been an extremely-exciting time for us at Taunton. With a larger demand on our imaging services, it is reassuring to know that our existing equipment has all been refreshed as it means we can continue to keep up with new radiological techniques. None of this would have been possible without Althea and the managed service agreement.”

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