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.”

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”.

David Rolfe appointed CEO of Althea in the UK & Ireland

David Rolfe has been appointed Althea’s UK & Ireland CEO effective 1st February 2017.  David brings with him a wealth of experience in the provision of quality Radiology and Radiotherapy managed services.

David commented, “I am excited to be joining an excellent team who care passionately about delivering the most effective and efficient technology management services to hospitals, ultimately for the benefit of patients”.

David was one of the founders of Asteral in 2002, and led the business until 2009, when it was recognised in the Sunday Times fast-track 100 as the fastest growing healthcare business in the UK (29th overall).  Since leaving in 2009, David has established successful MES businesses in both India and the UK.

Alessandro Dogliani, Group CEO of Althea stated, “We are delighted to have someone of David’s experience joining the business to take forward the opportunities we have as Europe’s leading provider of independent medical equipment solutions and maintenance services”.

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.

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.

Althea continues geographic expansion with acquisition of Sigil in France

Althea (formerly Pantheon Healthcare Group), today announced the acquisition of French diagnostic imaging service provider Sigil.  Complementing Althea’s recent business expansion into France with its core multi-vendor service and managed equipment service offerings, the acquisition of Sigil will accelerate the development and adoption of more efficient asset management and medical equipment maintenance service solutions for public and private sector hospitals and imaging centres.  Already present in 12 European countries, Althea’s expansion into France will enable the first local market offerings of integrated, vendor-neutral managed equipment and maintenance service solutions for all radiology and biomedical device modalities.

Based in Eysines, Sigil is an ISO 13485 quality certified company providing maintenance service for high-technology Radiology equipment.  The company also offers service and installation of x-ray tubes in public hospitals, including capacity to refurbish and restore medical parts with CE marking, quality assurance consulting and the sale of refurbished systems and conventional x-ray tubes.  Sigil’s combination of service offerings and their equipment-related solutions will be enhanced with the integration of Althea’s services portfolio as well as its pan-European supply chain and service support infrastructure.  Building on the last twenty years of experience providing local, expert multi-vendor and multi-modality services in France, Sigil’s service delivery platform will also be expanded by Althea to provide additional managed equipment service solutions to better meet the increasing demands within the French market for more efficient capital expenditures and reduced maintenance operating expenses over the equipment lifecycle.

Althea’s Vice President of Business Development and General Manager for Western Europe, said, “The purchase of Sigil will accelerate our growth within the French market not only as a geographic expansion but because France represents a high-growth market for independent managed equipment services and managed maintenance solutions for the public and private healthcare sector.  Sigil’s team has the same passion for customer support and technical expertise that Althea is applying with ISO 13485 quality service throughout Europe.”

Althea’s global presence and pan-European leadership team will support Sigil’s existing service infrastructure and customer base, which already includes many large public hospital groups.  In addition to Sigil’s Bordeaux location handling x-ray tube refurbishment, the company currently maintains a large service facility in Massy, which is equipped for equipment staging and field engineer training for MRI, CT and x-ray systems as well as logistical support for packaging of x-ray tubes and parts delivery.  These service support facilities will be expanded and integrated within the Althea pan-European supply chain.

Yves Brohan, Sigil Founder and General Manager, added, “Sigil has for many years offered an independent solution for imaging services that is unique for our customers in France and explains the loyalty we have received from them.  We value professionalism, reliability, savings for our customer and, above all, a responsibility for the highest levels of service toward them.  Althea shares these values and will support Sigil with the staff and resources that will allow us to serve a larger customer base throughout the public and private French healthcare market.”

Althea expands geographic footprint with acquisition of Spintech in Turkey

Continuing its regional expansion in emerging high growth markets, Althea (previously Pantheon Healthcare Group) has announced the acquisition of Spintech, a leading Turkish service provider for multi‐vendor diagnostic imaging equipment, asset management and maintenance services.  Spintech brings deep technical and field engineering specialisation across multiple modalities in Siemens high‐end imaging and general Radiology medical systems while more recently developing its multi‐vendor capabilities to support GE, Philips and Toshiba imaging systems under a strategic partnership that began with MESA in 2012.  The acquisition by Althea further strengthens the company’s Pan‐European leadership in the growing independent, multi‐vendor diagnostic imaging service market as well as increasing its Siemens‐specific service capabilities for current and future customers across Europe and the Middle East.

Althea’s Group Chief Executive commented, “Our acquisition of Spintech is a another step in expanding our geographic footprint into attractive, high‐growth segments of the market where there is unmet demand for more high‐quality, flexible and cost‐effective services for diagnostic imaging medical equipment and broader asset management solutions for hospitals and imaging centres.  Abdullah Yasar and the Spintech team bring a history of entrepreneurialism and innovation in medical imaging system services and managed equipment solutions which provide a great fit with our current portfolio and with our culture within the Group.  Spintech also fortifies our local electronics and medical device repair capabilities qualified under our ISO 13485 quality certification that will serve for future platform expansion in Turkey and surrounding markets.”

Spintech was established in 2011 by a group of former Siemens Healthcare modality managers and field engineers seeking to provide a high‐quality and more cost‐effective multi‐vendor service solution to better meet the rigorous demands of the Turkish market. Under its earlier partnership with MESA, the group quickly broadened from its roots in supporting Siemens diagnostic imaging systems to develop its multi‐vendor capabilities supporting various OEM platforms and providing comprehensive maintenance and asset management services, as well as turnkey managed equipment solutions for MRI, CT, PET‐CT, Angio and other general X‐ray radiology systems.

“We see strong synergies with Althea in the multi‐vendor services and asset management solutions they have been providing throughout Europe and in their recent acquisitions and see that we can extend their service and supply chain capabilities within the Turkish and surrounding markets,” said Abdullah Yasar, General Manager of Spintech, “We share with our new colleagues in Althea the values and passion of putting quality and our customers first, and we are excited to have the opportunity to support their ISO 13485 certified service models with our own quality service with certifications from the Turkish Standards Institution. Because quality and customer service come first in all of these companies, we see tremendous opportunity for more rapid expansion in Turkey as a combined team.”

Spintech currently provides diagnostic imaging and asset management services to both government hospitals and private healthcare customers in more than half of the developed Turkish provinces as well as in Kazakhstan, Azerbaijan, Turkmenistan and the Middle East.

Mr. Yasar added, “We share Althea’s vision for integrated healthcare and asset management service solutions and believe we can add significant benefit to the Group’s core value proposition of improving the quality of patient care by providing more reliable and efficient quality service in support of the clinical healthcare environment.”

Althea provides diagnostic imaging and asset management services on a global scale, with operations across 12 countries. Having recently increased its UK presence through its combination with Asteral, and further consolidating its presence in the Polish market through the purchase of MVS, Althea now provides imaging and clinical services to more than 600 hospitals and diagnostic imaging healthcare clinics across Europe and the Middle East.