A Medical Device Daily

In what the nation's top health officials have referred to as “one of the most fundamental reforms of National Health Service [NHS] services,“ eligible patients across England now have the right for the first time to exercise choice over where and when they get hospital treatment.

In the latest move toward greater patient empowerment, NHS patients now have the right to be offered the choice of at least four hospitals or clinics when they need to see a specialist for further treatment.

When patients are referred to a specialist for further treatment, they are provided with the information needed to make a choice about which hospital or clinic appointment is best for them. They can book the appointment at that time or take away information about their local hospitals and make their choices later.

Health Secretary Patricia Hewitt said, “Choice is now a reality in the NHS. Patients have new rights over their own healthcare. These rights will allow patients to choose services which best meet their individual needs and preferences.“

She added that throughout the history of the NHS, “good quality healthcare has been available on the NHS but not necessarily immediately, nor in some local areas. We have started to change this.“

The Department of Health said this new way of using the NHS “means that patients are given the power to choose faster and better treatment driving up standards across the NHS.“

Hewitt said the change sets “challenging targets for the NHS.“ She said introducing more choice into the service will “help speed up access to certain operations.“

Saying that “we want efficient health services delivering personalized care to everyone,“ she said patient choice “is central to making this happen across the NHS.“

A number of ways are available through which patients can access information and book their appointments, including through the new Choose and Book computer system, over the phone, or using the Internet. Either way, Hewitt said that when a patient leaves the general practitioner's office, “they will have either made their choice or know exactly what the next step will be to do so.“

New booklets have been introduced to help patients make their choice. The booklets contain comparative information about local hospitals. Using these, patients will base their choice on a number of indicators, including waiting times, MRSA rates, access and cancelled surgical procedures.

During 2006, the Department of Health will be extending choice further, and Hewitt said that by 2008, patients will be able to choose from any hospital or provider which meets NHS standards at NHS costs.

Scottish program extends Cytyc pact

Cytyc (Marlborough, Massachusetts) said the Scottish Cervical Screening Program has extended the current national contract with Cytyc UK for the supply of Cytyc's ThinPrep Pap Test to all Scottish laboratories.

The exclusive contract is for an additional five years, which is estimated to represent 2.2 million ThinPrep Pap Test sales during that period.

Cytyc said the decision follows the successful national conversion from conventional pap smears to the ThinPrep Pap Test in Scotland begun in 2003.

It said that since implementation of the ThinPrep System, the Scottish Cervical Screening Program has noted a range of clinical benefits related to the product, including a reduction in the number of patient recalls due to unsatisfactory specimens and a steady reduction in turnaround time for reporting results. Each year more than 440,000 women participate in the Scottish Cervical Screening Program and 11 laboratories are responsible for processing the tests.

“We have been very impressed with the clinical efficacy of the ThinPrep technology as well as the robust sample identification and simplified processing afforded by this technology,“ said Dr. Jocelyn Imrie, consultant cytopathologist and quality assurance adviser for Scotland.

Cytyc products cover a range of women's health applications, including cervical cancer screening, breast cancer risk assessment, treatment of excessive menstrual bleeding, and treatment of breast cancer.

Pfizer to implement Definiens solution

Definiens (Munich, Germany), a developer of advanced image intelligence solutions, said it has established a collaboration with Pfizer (New York) for the global implementation of Definiens' eCognition Enterprise Image Intelligence Solution.

Definiens will provide Pfizer with eCognition, a scalable, hyper-spectral, hardware-independent platform for image analysis that can accommodate future innovations in imaging dyes and hardware.

Definiens said its image intelligence solutions and services enable its clients to harness all relevant information from digital image to support fast and accurate decision-making. Its products are built on the eCognition platform technology and are applied to accelerate drug discovery, development and diagnostics processes in life sciences.

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