A Diagnostics & Imaging Week

Alpine Biomed (Fountain Valley, California), a developer of specialty diagnostic devices, said that it has doubled its manufacturing capacity and expanded its worldwide network by opening a new facility in Vietnam.

The company said it will produce and distribute medical devices that are in increasing demand for diagnosing gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) from its new manufacturing facility located in Ho Chi Minh City. The manufacturing center will export diagnostic devices to customers throughout the world and have about 100 employees.

The new facility is Alpine Biomed's latest investment to expand its products and capabilities. In January, the company acquired Stellate Systems to increase its neurodiagnostics business and boost its presence in the rapidly growing sleep diagnostics market.

The company said that since partnering in 2007 with Water Street Healthcare Partners, a private equity firm focused exclusively on the healthcare industry, it has achieved record sales and revenue growth. It is anticipating sales growth of as much as 25% in 2009.

"Our new facility in Vietnam is another key component of our strategic plan to become one of the world's leading specialty diagnostic device companies," said President/CEO John Arnott. "It is a state-of-the-art facility featuring the most advanced technologies that connect our manufacturing centers around the world to provide our customers with the highest-quality devices that diagnose a range of gastrointestinal and neurological disorders."

The new facility has received Medical Device Quality Management System certification from the International Organization for Standardization. It also has been registered with the FDA.

Vietnam General Manager Minh Le said, "Every element of our new facility is designed and built to achieve the upmost standards for quality. Our management team and engineers are dedicated to providing our customers and their patients around the world with the highest-quality devices in the industry."

Alpine Biomed is a global developer of specialty diagnostic devices for the gastroenterology and neurology clinical markets. The company produces diagnostic tools used for GERD, commonly referred to as acid reflux disease, as well as for neurological conditions such as sleep disorders.

Welch Allyn in push for training of GPs in China

Welch Allyn (Skaneateles Falls, New York) and West China Hospital (Huaxi) have reported the opening of the Clinical Skills Training Center in general practice.

Located at the West China School of Medicine of Sichuan University, this is the first national general practice training center that is fully sponsored by Welch Allyn. The company said it "represents the start of a long-term partnership between the two organizations in building general practice skills to support community and rural health care clinics in China."

West China Hospital, also called Huaxi Hospital, is now the biggest hospital in China, with 4,300 beds and 6,100 employees.

Welch Allyn President/CEO Julie Shimer said, "This training center dovetails directly into the Chinese government's initiative to build nationwide community clinics and rural healthcare system by increasing the number of skilled general practice physicians available."

She added that the initiative builds on "Welch Allyn's 90 years of experience in diagnostics and general practice medicine, combined with Huaxi Hospital's reputation and expertise in clinical education and training to create a path-making training center."

The Clinical Skills Training Center in General Practice at Huaxi is the first of six similar Welch Allyn-sponsored training centers expected to be established around the country. The centers are expected to train about 900 general practitioners per year through "train-the-trainer" programs, to provide the thousands of GPs expected to be needed in community and rural health care clinics being developed in China.

"We are pleased to be working with Welch Allyn and other international organizations such as the American Osteopathic Association [AOA] and Heart to Heart to give heightened skills in general practice medicine to medical school students, residents, continuation education doctors and those doctors that government expects to transform from current non-GP specialty to GP specialty," said Yingkang Shi, dean of West China School of Medicine.

Shi added: "Our primary care system — from function to essential standards — needs physicians who are skilled in general practice medicine, and we are very happy that Welch Allyn has joined us in helping the country in its efforts to raise this standard."

The new center will host its first major "train-the trainer" training program in May, on diagnosis techniques and skills of the general practitioners, conducted by the AOA with Welch Allyn as a sponsor.

Family physicians from the AOA will teach basics of diagnosis, how to train a family physician, how to evaluate the outcomes for family practice trainings, and will demonstrate a "typical day in life" of a family practice resident.

The training center features equipment that would typically be found in a community clinic, including an integrated diagnostic system, ECG, ambulatory blood pressure monitor and electronic vital signs devices.

Future plans under development between Huaxi and Welch Allyn include identifying ways to maximize the use of the training center and enhance international exchange programs. Activities conducted by the training center will be used as case studies for the China Medical Doctors Association as it looks to establish national GP training standards.

Blood info system licensed in Germany

Global Med Technologies (Denver), an international healthcare information technology company, said that GLI, the German division of the company's Inlog subsidiary, has licensed its EdgeBlood blood information management system and EdgeLab laboratory information system to the University of Saarland Clinic Blood Center (Homburg, Germany).

Terms of the agreement were not disclosed.

The University of Saarland Clinic Blood Center collects 30,000 whole blood donations a year. EdgeBlood and EdgeLab will be deployed on 25 workstations in the blood center and laboratory, and up to 50 remote users will access the web result server EdgeNet. Five analyzers will be connected to EdgeLab, Inlog's LIS.

"After detailed market research, the University Medical Center of Saarland has decided to install the LIS EdgeBlood/EdgeLab," said Hermann Eichler, MD, of the Institute of Clinical Hemostaseology and Transfusion Medicine at Homburg/University Medical Center of Saarland. "This decision was made because, among other reasons, the system can completely control the management of all essential services in transfusion medicine. Moreover, the software is already in use in the National German Red Cross Blood Donation Services."

EdgeBlood is used to process more than half the blood drawn in Germany, as well as processing significant parts of the Austrian and Swiss blood supplies. It also is used in Greece as well as five African countries.

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