A Medical Device Daily

National Health Service patients should get faster access to high quality diagnostic tests in the future thanks to a £1 billion procurement recently unveiled by John Reid, health secretary. The new funding should boost NHS's capacity to provide more efficient access MRI, CT and ultrasound scans, according to Reid.

He said: "The NHS has made fantastic progress in tackling waiting times for operations. Thanks to increased investment and improved ways of working, maximum waiting times have been halved from 18 months, only a few years ago, to a maximum of less than nine months now, and an average of a lot less for most people."

And Reid said that the NHS hopes to improve even further on this quicker timeline.

"By the end of 2008, we are determined no one will wait longer than 18 weeks for hospital treatment from the time they see their general practitioner, right through to the time of their treatment. To achieve this we must expand our diagnostic service capacity rapidly."

He said the NHS will also attempt to end what he called "hidden" waits.

"The time patients wait for diagnostics has not traditionally been counted as part of the waiting time measurement... . We know that many patients are caught in a 'bottleneck' of waiting for a scan or other diagnostic service, before they are referred for an operation." He called this "worrying and uncertain" and said the new funding "makes a big step towards tackling this 'hidden waiting list.'"

He went on: "Diagnostic tests do not all have to be done in a hospital. They can often be provided at the family doctor's or even on the high street or other community setting, far more conveniently for patients." He encouraged providers to "think creatively" concerning the best means of delivering services and where they should be located.

"In buying extra capacity from the independent sector we will significantly increase the NHS-funded diagnostic provision and increase the numbers of expert staff such as radiologists to provide these services for NHS patients, with equal access free at the point of delivery."

The Department of Health will invite "expressions of interest" from independent sector providers, estimated a cost of £2 million per year for the procurement phase.

Last summer the Department of Health completed a deal with Alliance Medical (Oxon,UK) to provide 120,000 scans in mobile MRI scanners. This one deal boosted MRI scanning capacity by 15%. As a result, more than 25,000 patients received MRI scans.

The NHS also noted a drop in wat times in many parts of Britain: In Huddersfield, cut from 38 to eight weeks; in Ipswich, from 30 to 5; and in Scarborough, halved from 36 to 18 weeks.

CAD breast MRI boosted at Vienna meeting

Confirma (Kirkland, Washington) reported that an abstract presented last week at the 2005 European Congress of Radiology, in Vienna, Austria, validated that CADstream, computer-aided-detection (CAD) for breast MRI may improve diagnostic accuracy and increase efficiency of breast MRI analysis. More than 9,000 radiology professionals are attending this year's meeting ending today.

In the abstract titled "An Advanced Method of Computer-Aided-Evaluation Applied to Breast MRI: A Useful Tool Both for the Radiologist Analysis and for Diagnostic Accuracy," Drs. J.C. Vilanova and J. Barcelo of Clinica Girona in Girona, Spain, compared CADstream to standard software used for MRI analysis, focusing on diagnostic accuracy and efficiency.

The study concluded that CADstream may improve diagnostic accuracy and increased efficiency for breast cancer evaluation. The CAD system showed a significant reduction in image artifact, helping the radiologist with more accurate analysis and saving a substantial amount of time during analysis of breast MRI studies.

"Our study shows that CADstream significantly reduces patient movement-related artifact and analysis time, assisting radiologists in more accurately and efficiently interpreting studies," said Vilanova, of Clinica Girona (Girona, Spain). "As a radiologist with experience processing and interpreting breast MRI studies before CAD, I am very pleased with the addition of the CAD system to our practice as it helps save time and increases our confidence in the study results."

CADstream automates data analysis, improving image management and correcting for patient movement, which assists radiologists in the interpretation, standardization and reporting of these data-intensive studies. CADstream's core automated features include adaptive image registration (2-D/3-D), multiplanar reformatting, subtractions, angiogenesis maps, interactive real-time contrast curves, maximum intensity projections (MIPs) and volume summaries. Its features include a streamlined portfolio for treatment planning, multimodality ready and SureLoc for interventional planning.

Paradigm wins new biomicroscope CE mark

Paradigm Medical Industries (Salt Lake City) reported receiving the CE mark for a new generation ultrasound biomicroscope (UBM).

Paradigm Medical's chief operating officer, Aziz Mohabbat, said, "We expect to begin product sales in Europe immediately." He added: "The P60 UBM, which received clearance from RWTUV Systems GmbH, is a fourth generation device that is a very sophisticated microprocessor-based, multi-frequency ultrasound biomicroscope that allows users to acquire and view high-resolution images of the anterior segment of the eye."

Paradigm already has the CE mark for its latest version of UBM, the P45 versions of UBM and has generated sales overseas. The P45 – and earlier versions – also have FDA approval.

Paradigm said that the P60 represents the latest generation of UBM devices and is believed to have better visual clarity and image flexibility than earlier versions.

"The P60 can provide full sulcus-to-sulcus images of the eye in a single pass," Mohabbat added. "Using a precision linear tracking scan head, as well as a B-Scan that produces two-dimensional plane views of the eye for diagnostic evaluation, the P60 represents the state-of-the-art for high-resolution imaging of the eye. Images may be edited and enhanced, printed and saved to mass storage for improved patient diagnosis and record keeping."