The Other Side: 12
Interview with a Consultant Radiologist
Dr David Grant is Clinical Director of Diagnostics & Therapies and Consultant Radiologist at the Whittington Hospital in North London. On Target talked to him about the Managed Equipment Service scheme that the Whittington Hospital has developed with vendor-independent MES supplier Asteral. The success of this partnership has led Asteral to be shortlisted as one of three finalists in the ‘Partnership Working Deal’ category of the Health Investor Awards.
1. What led the Whittington Hospital to develop the first standalone MES contract in the UK, and to select Asteral as the supplier?
The need to offer an appropriate standard of diagnostic assessment, and hence clinical care, within the increasing financial constraints of the modern NHS. Asteral showed a genuine desire to work collaboratively to realise the goals and clinical aspirations of our hospital.
2. Is the Whittington’s new digital Imaging Department (which opened in November 2006) unique in the NHS?
It is not that the Hospital’s department is unique (although it is one of the best teams I have been fortunate enough to work with), but rather that it has achieved the infrastructure to deliver care in a pleasant environment and with an installed equipment base that is appropriate to modern medical practice.
3. What key aspects of the scheme demonstrate good practice and innovation?
Good communication, flexibility of planning and the provision of independent advice not affiliated to any single manufacturer. The potential purchasing power of an MES supplier is far greater than that of an individual hospital, and as such prices are cheaper, specifications more comprehensive and maintenance more responsive than those obtained by individual sites.
4. What challenges do MES schemes need to overcome?
MES schemes need to be seen as partners in delivering healthcare, rather than just as providers of equipment. This is a 15-year relationship, and one that needs to be flexible and responsive to the changing needs of the local population and the provider.
5. How do you see the role of diagnostic imaging in healthcare changing in the future?
Diagnostic imaging is one of the fastest-evolving branches of medical care. It is pivotal in delivering safe and effective treatment, largely replacing clinical examination. Like it or not, the reality of modern medicine is that it is testbased. I think that individual diagnostic modalities will continue to develop in terms of speed, resolution and patient acceptability, but perhaps the greatest challenges are in the fields of data management and computeraided diagnosis.
Current clinical data sets are huge and are likely to get bigger. There is a need for userfriendly display algorithms, rather than just more complex and larger data sets.