Alliance Medical Mobile Scanning Units

Deployment of Visbion Image Cube helps significantly reduce logistics costs and improve efficiency for Alliance Medical

Alliance Medical is the largest pan-European provider of managed diagnostic imaging services. Using a fleet of over 50 state of the art mobile scanning units, Alliance Medical provides support to over 300 hospitals and clinics throughout the UK

The Challenge

Typically, each mobile scanner only has a single RIS/PACS integration, which, until recently, meant that each scanner had to be re-configured to an individual hospital site. An engineer had to be called out every time this re-integration took place, to connect and test the system. This was a  complex and time consuming process which was wholly impractical to undertake on a day–to-day basis.

As a result, there was no flexibility to allow scanning units to be swapped or moved between different sites if, for example, one of the units was delayed at another site or in the case of scanner downtime. This was leading to significant and unnecessary transport and logistical costs for Alliance Medical. In 2009 the company launched a project to consider how to address these costs, and to upgrade the infrastructure on its fleet of mobile units.

Visbion Image Cube

Visbion provided the ideal solution for Alliance Medical with its innovative Image Cube. The Image Cube, a small device installed within each mobile unit, allows any truck to connect to any hospital system without the need for complex scanner or network reconfiguration. The scanners connect to the Image Cube which, in turn, connects to the hospital sites to provide rapid and secure transfer of images and retrieval of modality worklists.

The Image Cube receives images from any standard modality in DICOM 3.0 format. The images are then cached and compressed in a lossless fashion and transmitted in secure encrypted format to their destination, handling multiple destinations simultaneously. In addition, the Image Cube can receive and forward DICOM modality worklist queries to enable the complete end-to-end workflow to be implemented.

By logging into a web page, radiographers select the site they are located at, and this automatically reconfigures the Image Cube.

Image Cube even has the capability to connect to a variety of different RIS systems including HSS and McKesson, as well as a range of different PACS systems including GE, Agfa, Carestream and Siemens.

With approximately 50 of Alliance Medical’s mobile units serving over 300 hospitals, there are more than 15000 possible connection combinations which Image Cube is able to handle effortlessly.

Project Management

Simon Gregory was Project Manager for the upgrade, overseen by Alliance Medical’s IT Director, Chris Cook. The system was initially piloted on 3 mobile trucks, before being fully rolled out across the rest of the fleet a few months later.. Visbion worked closely with Alliance Medical to ensure smooth deployment, and address any complexities or infrastructure challenges.

Simon Gregory commented “As well as installing Image Cube, we also undertook complementary IT upgrades on each mobile unit, involving up to 12 different parties. We encountered no major problems with the installation of the Image Cubes and we found Visbion’s support and help at this time invaluable.”

The Result

With the Image Cubes now in place, Alliance Medical is realising significant benefits.

Radiographers now experience a faster and more efficient system, resulting in considerable time savings. No longer do they have to manually transfer images by burning and uploading CD’s, and there is now no need to manually reconcile the images,. leading to improved data cleanliness.

With mobile units now ready and able to service any hospital site, there is much greater flexibility. Large fuel and transport savings have been realised as mobile scanning units no longer have to travel from one end of the country to another to be at specific sites. This also means fewer cancellations due to delays or breakdowns, with Alliance Medical able to offer an improved service for both hospitals and patients.

It is also now possible to service multiple contracts during one scanning day so that a patient from another site can be scanned during a spare slot. Image Cube will ensure that images are routed to the correct destination. Image Cube is fast becoming a key feature of static as well as mobile implementations.

Chris Cook, Alliance Medical’s IT Director added “Visbion is an exciting and innovative company to work with. We have found the entire team to be flexible in their approach and extremely responsive to our very specific needs.”