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 and UHL celebrate 10 years of managed service contract

On 31st July 2017 University Hospitals of Leicester NHS Trust (UHL) and Althea celebrated the tenth anniversary of their vendor-independent managed service.  The eighteen-year contract started in 2007 and covers over 250 diagnostic imaging systems at UHL’s three hospital sites – Royal Infirmary, Glenfield, and Leicester General – as well as the integrated management of all Interventional Radiology and Cardiology clinical consumables.

Further to the replacement of seven CT and six MR scanners in 2015 Althea & UHL have continued an active asset replacement programme designed to ensure that patients and staff have access to the latest technology within facilities that optimise patient experience.  Several major milestones have been achieved in the last twelve months.

In November 2016 UHL took delivery of the UK’s first, state-of-the-art MR relocatable unit which improves the patient journey whilst providing flexibility should clinical service demands change in the future.  The unit was constructed at Lamboo Mobile Medical’s factory in the Netherlands and houses a Siemens Healthineers MR scanner which was partly installed in the Netherlands prior to delivery to minimise on-site disruption.

In May 2017 the Trust’s vascular surgery successfully moved location.  The move incorporated the simultaneous refurbishment of a ward at Glenfield to accommodate the vascular surgery patients, the movement of interventional imaging equipment from the Royal Infirmary to Glenfield’s angiography department, and the building and commissioning of a new hybrid theatre facility.  Vascular surgery patients are already realising the benefits of the re-location with all clinical stakeholders within close proximity to each other to collaboratively enhance treatment.

In April 2017 Althea supported the Trust opening the UK’s first ‘frailty friendly’ Emergency Floor with state-of-the-art embedded imaging including CT and x-ray.  Althea ensured that the most clinically-appropriate equipment from Philips Healthcare, Samsung Healthcare (distributed by MIS), Toshiba Medical and Bracco UK was selected, installed and commissioned on time within facilities that improve the patient journey whilst speeding up waiting times.

Althea’s vendor-independent focus on clinical outcomes and patient experience continues in the integrated consumables management service (CMS).  Our CMS ensures that high-quality clinical consumables and devices are provided to UHL’s Interventional Radiology, Cardiology, and Electrophysiology suites in the right quantities at the right time.  This empowers the clinical teams to deliver compliant, sustainable, and patient-centric services.  The CMS includes full-time on-site stock management staff as well as a complete inventory management system which ensures stock obsolescence is minimised and a reduced on-site stock holding.  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.  Althea’s CMS actively encourages the Trust to explore latest technologies, new products, and participate in clinical trials.  Innovations include the introduction of leadless pacemakers, new 3D mapping procedures, the first site in Europe to perform robotic ablation, and a screening centre for Boston Scientific Sub-Q implantable cardioverter-defibrillators.

Outside of Cardiology and Interventional Radiology, in August 2016 Althea installed a state-of-the-art ARX UK Vmax robotic pharmacy with a user-friendly touchscreen and barcode system.  The new automated dispensing system ensures instant access to stock levels, space availability and expiring stock information for the most accurate stock management.  The self-cleaning equipment is also quieter and is 50% more space efficient at storing packets, opening up further storage space for the Trust.

David Rolfe, Althea’s UK&I CEO commented: “We are thrilled to celebrate the tenth anniversary of our partnership with UHL – one of the biggest and busiest NHS Trusts in the country.  Leicester has an unequivocal commitment to its patients and are constantly striving to improve the care they receive – looking at the ways they work, encouraging innovation and offering patients access to the latest technologies.  Our vendor-neutral managed service is fully aligned to these objectives and continues to evolve to help the Trust optimise patient outcomes.  My team is immensely proud of its longstanding partnership with UHL and looks forward to continuing to support the Trust through to 2025.”

UHL’s Head of Operations, Matthew Archer added “the flexibility Althea has shown to accommodate these innovations and improvements at our hospitals has been second to none. The ability to adapt every aspect of the managed equipment service to each of our departmental needs throughout our long-term contract is a huge benefit to us as well as our patients, with newly-refurbished departments and state-of-the-art equipment contributing to both an increase in staff morale and improved patient experience.”

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)

New pharmacy robot at UHL

Althea is pleased to announce it has installed a state-of-the-art ARX UK Vmax robotic pharmacy at Leicester Royal Infirmary. The Vmax has been provided through the University of Leicester Hospitals NHS Trust’s 18-year managed service contract, which supports the Trusts’ clinical teams in Radiology, Cardiology and Pharmacy.

The new robotic pharmacy installation means that the Trust will benefit from technology enhancements including a user-friendly touchscreen and barcode system which will ensure instant access to stock levels, space availability and expiring stock information for the most accurate stock management. The pharmacy has the ability to collect eight packets at once – a substantial increase over the old robot. The self-cleaning equipment is also quieter and is 50% more space efficient at storing packets, opening up further storage space for the Trust.

Paul Couchman, Pharmacy Service Manager at Leicester’s Hospitals, commented, “The ability to update and refresh our automated dispensing system through the Althea contract has enabled us to install and utilise the latest technology in order to continue to meet the dispensing demands of the hospital. The solution delivered has made best use of available space within the department whilst giving increased performance and improved medicines storage. The re-location of the automated dispensing cabinets has also improved both the dispensing workflow and quality of the dispensary environment”.

Higèa announces the acquisition of 80% of Biomedicale S.r.l.

Higèa S.p.A., a company controlled by Althea (formerly Pantheon Healthcare Group), has finalised the acquisition of the 80% of Biomedicale S.r.l., a company owned by Zephyro S.p.A., an Italian company listed at AIM market of “Borsa Italiana” and operating in the healthcare and facility management industries.

With this important operation, Higèa S.p.A., that counts more than 400 employees, a turnover of approx. 100 Millions of Euro and a portfolio with more than 100 Italian and European health facilities, consolidates its leadership in the healthcare engineering services.

This acquisition has a key role in the development process of Althea (formerly Pantheon Healthcare Group), which includes, besides Higèa, other companies such as Asteral, MESA, Ed Sloan & Associates, Sigil, Spintech and MVS.

The Group, founded in August 2014, is at its thirteenth acquisition conducted in several countries, with a focus in European market.

Alessandro Dogliani, Group CEO declares, “An operation in line with the strategies for the growth of Higèa and Althea that will allow us to strengthen our biomedical integrated services, and, thanks to our know-how, to develop the management processes, improving the results”.

This operation, performed a few weeks after the acquisition of Iteon Tecnologie S.r.l. biomedical division, was achieved with the support of Ernst & Young, Giliberti Pappalettera e Triscornia and Maisto e Associati.

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.

Althea acquires IBSL, a leading provider of clinical engineering services

Althea (formerly Pantheon Healthcare Group) announced today the acquisition of Ingegneria Biomedica Santa Lucia S.p.A. (IBSL), a key Italian-based provider of clinical engineering and a large range of biomedical equipment services, from Gruppo Giglio.

Backed by the Permira Funds, the acquisition is part of Althea’s continued geographic and modality growth strategy which launched in August 2014 with the acquisition of Asteral Limited and Medical Equipment Solutions and Applications (MESA); two leading independent healthcare service companies operating within the European market.  The combination created Europe’s first integrated multi-vendor healthcare service platform for procuring, commissioning, managing and maintaining biomedical devices and diagnostic imaging equipment within public- and private-sector hospitals and clinics.

IBSL was born in 1997 from the entrepreneurial idea of Sergio and Bruno Giglio’s long customer-centric experience with outsourcing options for heating systems.  Their biomedical business quickly grew to become one of the leading clinical engineering service providers in Italy, providing direct maintenance to biomedical systems within hospitals and clinics across Italy.  In the ensuing years, IBSL integrated further management expertise and technical competences through the acquisition of D&D Med. Com., Ra.se.co, Gidea Alta Tecnologia and Te.Mo.Sa, further strengthening its position in clinical engineering and expanding its reach in the sector of diagnostic imaging equipment and outsourcing services.

Thanks to an outstanding managerial team, led by Alessandro Dogliani, Davide Gagliardi, Antonio Marino, Angelo Deantoni and Enrico Labella, together with about 300 technicians and highly-qualified engineers directly operating within hospitals, IBSL delivers high quality, affordable clinical engineering services, comprehensive solutions for the supply and maintenance of diagnostic imaging equipment as well as full-service outsourcing opportunities for Radiology departments, currently serving more than 60 hospitals, research facilities and other clinical providers in Italy.

The acquisition of IBSL strengthens Althea’s position as a leading independent pan-European healthcare provider of complete managed solutions for the lifecycle of medical technologies.  With a strong focus on the maintenance, management and sale of equipment for hospitals and diagnostic centres, Althea provides central solutions for markets increasingly requiring comprehensive outsourcing provisions and managed services.  The combination of IBSL and Althea will extend the service offering of the Group, providing a wider variety of equipment services and products and strengthening Althea’s presence in Italy, a key country for its international business development.

Since its inception in August 2014, Althea has continued its growth both organically and though the acquisition of three key vendor-independent high technology equipment service providers: MVS in Poland, Spintech in Turkey, and Sigil in France.

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.”