Siemens-Drägerwerk Joint Venture Gets EU OK
The European Union (EU) Commission on April 30 gave its blessing to a proposed joint venture between Siemens Medical Solutions (Erlangen, Germany) and Drägerwerk AG (Luebeck, Germany), but not without imposing several conditions to avoid a market monopoly.

The proposal calls for Siemens to acquire a 35 percent stake in the new venture. In return, Drägerwerk will receive Siemens’ Electromedical Systems division. The Electromedical Systems division consists of two Siemens business units — Life Support Systems and Patient Care Systems. (See “Dräger Medical, Siemens Enter into Joint Venture,” July 2002 24×7 Browser.)

Under terms of the EU approval, Siemens must divest its Life Support Systems segment, which specializes in anesthesia and ventilation devices. The joint venture also must make its patient monitoring systems compatible with patient monitoring devices made by other companies to avoid the emergence of exclusive standards.

When all is said and done, the venture will be called Dräger Medical AG & Co. KgaA (Luebeck) and will combine Drägerwerk’s Medical division with Siemens’ patient monitoring systems unit. Dräger Medical expects to have a worldwide workforce of approximately 5,700 people and annual sales of approximately $1.2 billion.

The companies said that net proceeds from the sale of Siemens’ Life Support Systems unit will accrue to the joint venture.

Dräger Medical CEO Wolfgang Reim said in a prepared statement that the EU Commission’s decision “assured us that we will be able to get the joint venture under way as briskly as possible.”

The new Dräger Medical will have production and research-and-development facilities in Luebeck; Best, Netherlands; Telford, Pa.; Danvers, Mass.; and Shanghai, China.

The companies plan to develop a seamless integration of acute care information within a hospital’s information technology (IT) network.


AT THE HEART OF ACC 2003:
DIGITAL TECHNOLOGIES, CARDIAC CARE ADVANCES

All-digital medical imaging technologies were among the advances on display at the 52nd annual scientific session of the America College of Cardiology (ACC of Bethesda, Md.) held in Chicago in April.

Accompanying the hardware displays were research presentations on how cardiac care has advanced over the last year, with an eye toward improving patient treatment as soon as possible.

One study examined the cost of using drug-eluting stents in cardiovascular treatment to prevent arteries from restinosis — a repeated closing of the artery — after an angioplasty. The research found that the stent procedure costs only fractionally more than conventional treatment when longer-term health costs are considered. The initial cost difference of approximately $2,800 per patient decreased to about $300 after 12 months.

The reason for the decline is the reduced need for repeat procedures, hospitalization and other expenses, noted study leader David Cohen, M.D., of Beth Israel-Deaconess Medical Center (Boston).

Bare metal stents, which have been used for several years to hold open coronary arteries following angioplasty, have had a fair amount of success but can cause scar tissue to form near the site of implantation. The formation of the scar may cause restinosis, sometimes in as soon as four to eight months after the original surgery.

The study found that patients with drug-eluting stents were at significantly less risk of death, heart attack or a repeated stenting or bypass surgery for the same artery.

Several U.S. companies manufacture drug-eluting stents, including Johnson & Johnson (J&J of New Brunswick, N.J.), which paid for the study. J&J is awaiting regulatory approval for its drug-eluting stent, called Cypher.

On the exhibit floor, Philips Medical Systems International (Andover, Mass.) unveiled new cardiovascular CT scanning and analysis tools designed for enhanced evaluation of heart anatomy and function with improved image quality, even for patients with heart rates of 115 beats per minute. New capabilities include stenosis analysis, left ventricle/right ventricle analysis and function, stent planning and virtual angioscopy.

Philips also exhibited its BV Pulsera high-end mobile C-arm system for cardiovascular exams and surgical applications.

Siemens Medical Solutions USA Inc. (Malvern, Pa.) unveiled its new Axiom Artis dTC ceiling-mounted C-arm. The digital cardiac imaging system features flat-panel detector technology designed to enhance image quality, while the ceiling-mounted configuration is intended to improve physician access to the patient for cardiac procedures. Virtually all anatomical regions are within reach and system functions can be performed through a tableside touch-screen display.

Toshiba America Medical Systems Inc. (TAMS of Tustin, Calif.) demonstrated its Infinix Dual Plane (DP) i-Series imaging system technology for interventional procedures and vascular studies. Infinix DP offers a compact, single-room design to meet ACC guidelines for peripheral and coronary examinations.

GE Medical Systems Information Technologies (GEMSIT of Milwaukee) displayed a technology that allows physicians to identify microvolt T-Wave Alternans (T-WA), which indicates an electrical instability in the heart. Patients with microvolt T-WA are at high risk to warrant therapy, such as implantation of a heart defibrillator.


BMETS MEETING PUTS PATIENT SAFETY ON THE TABLE
Patient safety was on the menu for members of the Baltimore (Md.) Medical Engineers and Technicians Society (BMETS) at the group’s April 23 dinner meeting held at the Sheraton in Towson, Md.

Bruce Maden, operations manager, MedEquip Biomedical (Miami, Fla.) hosted the event, which included a dinner buffet and social hour leading up to the meeting and discussion topic.

Members heard a presentation on 2003 patient safety goals issued by the Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations (JCAHO of Oakbrook Terrace, Ill.), specifically Goal 6 regarding the effectiveness of clinical alarm systems. JCAHO recommends that clinical engineering departments implement regular preventive maintenance and testing of alarm systems, while also assuring that alarms are activated with appropriate settings and are sufficiently audible with respect to distances and competing noise with the unit.

Participants discussed various approaches being used to meet the goal; what hospitals, both large and small, are doing to comply with the goal; and the costs involved with compliance.


EU TO GE: PROVIDE MORE INFO ON INSTRUMENTARIUM BUY
It looks as if General Electric Co. (GE of Fairfield, Conn.) will have to wait longer to complete its proposed $2-plus billion acquisition of Instrumentarium Corp. (Helsinki).

The European Union (EU) Commission last month suspended the Aug. 18 deadline to review the transaction and asked GE to provide additional information.

The EU in April began its probe into the acquisition and its potential market impact on breast-screening equipment, mobile C-arms and anesthesia monitors.

European regulators are said to be paying closest attention to the combination of Instrumentarium’s anesthesia technology and the patient monitoring systems from GE Medical Systems (GEMS of Waukesha, Wis.). The commission reportedly is looking at market share, as well as its effect on bidding and pricing for contracts.

The EU’s review is a four-month process, but with this request for more information from GE, the probe will extend beyond its initial Aug. 18 deadline.

The U.S. Justice Department also is evaluating antitrust implications the transaction would have in the United States.

The EU Commission can approve the transaction, require concessions — such as the sale of assets to minimize the competitive impact on a particular market — or reject the proposal completely.

GEMS or Instrumentarium could be mandated to sell some assets in the critical-care medical devices segment or else make other concessions for the EU to clear the acquisition.


 PAMIA MEETS; FOUNDER ANNOUNCES RETIREMENT
Fifty-eight members of the Philadelphia Area Medical Instrumentation Association (PAMIA) met on March 18 to review old business, to discuss new business and to pay homage to PAMIA founder Bill Copestakes (left), who announced his retirement.

The meeting also featured speaker David Harrison, marketing manager, GE Medical Systems Information Technologies (GEMSIT of Milwaukee), Clinical Systems division. Harrison delivered a presentation titled “Clinical Parameters: Back to Basics and Into the Future,” which dealt with the differences in how vendors acquire and process clinical data before displaying it on high-tech monitors and/or wireless devices.

Copestakes, who founded PAMIA in 1973, told the gathering that he will retire from Capital Health System at Mercer (Trenton, N.J.) after 25 years’ service with Mercer and more than 40 years in biomed.

He started his career in 1961 as a medical electronics technician with Telemedics Inc., a division of Vector Manufacturing (Trevose, Pa.), which made telemetry equipment for the military. At Telemedics, Copestakes was involved in the development of the RKG-100, a radio telemetry system worm by a patient, and the Telectrode, the first disposable electrode.

Copestakes recalls this about the Telectrode experience.

“The search for a cheap connector was solved when our chief engineer, Charlie Rose, realized that the clothes snaps on his boxer shorts would make a good and cheap connector,” he recounts. “The company driver went to Woolworth’s 5 & 10 to purchase some clothes fasteners. The clothes fastener, a Band-Aid patch and a piece of silver screen was the first disposable electrode.”

Copestakes later worked for Roche Medical and, in 1970, took a position at Albert Einstein Medical Center in Philadelphia, where he worked until 1977, when he moved to Mercer Medical, now owned by Capital Health. His employer the last five years at Mercer Medical has been Aramark ServiceMaster (Philadelphia).

PAMIA started in the Philadelphia area. Membership now spans the three states of Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Maryland.


AGFA to Implement Servigistics’ SPM
Agfa (Mortsel, Belgium) in March selected Servigistics Inc. (Atlanta) to manage the company’s global service part inventories.

Agfa will deploy the Servigistics Service Parts Management (SPM) program across all business divisions, which include Healthcare, Consumer Imaging and Industrial Imaging. The software-only implementation will be managed out of Agfa’s headquarters in Belgium, with initial installations planned for the company’s European stocking locations followed by a roll out to its stocking locations throughout the United States.

Servigistics founder and Chief Technical Officer Michael Landry declined to put a dollar value on the deal but indicated it was a sizable figure.

“We don’t generally talk about size of contracts or revenue,” Landry remarked. “It was obviously a significant global license — [it covers] $100 million of global inventory. It is, as you would expect, a seven-figure deal. It’s that order of magnitude.”

The Servigistics SPM application will integrate with Agfa’s existing systems and eventually migrate to a SAP foundation.

“Agfa needed a solution that would deliver immediate value and seamlessly integrate to its legacy systems, as well as have the ability to transition to SAP and virtually any other transaction system,” Jan Pieter Duijiker, general manager, Agfa Global Logistics Services, said in a prepared statement. “[It] is a strategic asset that will help Agfa exceed the expectations of its global client base across all business units.”

“It’s just as important for decision-making,” Servigistics’ Landry offered, “as far as what inventory should be in what location, the demand, the expectation, the lead time, the importance of the part. That kind of information all goes into the optimal plan and buying, moving, sourcing decision.”

Landry said it is up to Agfa to decide who can access the system at what level. Since the system is Web-based, multilingual and offers data-driven security, parts of the system can be made available to one group and denied to another, he explained.

Implementation was in process in April, with expectations to “go live” in the next couple of months, Landry said.

Servigistics has provided its SPM program to other companies in the healthcare sector, namely Toshiba America Medical Systems (TAMS of Tustin, Calif.) and data-storage manufacturer EMC (Hopkinton, Mass.).


USCA SIGNS TWO TO LIFECYCLE PROGRAMS
USCS Equipment Technology Solutions (Brookfield, Wis.) announces two new customers for its Lifecycle services.

West Central Ohio Regional Healthcare Alliance Ltd. (WCORHA of Lima, Ohio) late last year signed a three-year agreement for the Lifecycle Managed Maintenance program. The agreement involves four WCORHA hospitals and allows them to use the repair provider of their choice.

Health Resources Services (HRS of Seattle), meanwhile, signed a five-year agreement for the USCS Lifecycle Asset Management program. HRS, a marketing affiliate of group purchasing organization (GPO) AmeriNet (St. Louis), supports AmeriNet members and nonmembers in the West and Southwest, and Alaska.


MEDEQUIP ADDS TRIANA, PROMOTES MADEN
MedEquip Biomedical (Miami, Fla.) recently hired Mike Triana to manage new-product development.

At the same time, the company promoted Bruce Maden to operations manager from service manager.

Triana will manage new-product development and will be responsible for corporate strategic planning.   

He brings to MedEquip an extensive educational background and a wealth of managerial experience garnered during 15 years of employment with GE/Marquette in positions of engineering, technology management and training. Most recently, Triana had been responsible the development of the multivendor depot repair center for GE Clinical Services Inc. (GECSI), headquartered at its service center in Jupiter, Fla.

Since joining MedEquip in 2001, Maden has been a highly visible representative. In his new position, he continues to promote the company, spending more time “on the road,” while also taking on responsibility for coordinating all company operations. In the last couple of years, MedEquip has grown from seven to 25 employees, Maden noted.

For 20 years prior to joining the company, Maden worked for and managed various in-house biomedical programs. He is also an active participant in local and state biomedical organizations throughout the country.


CASSLING DIAGNOSTIC OPTS FOR NEXTERNA CLEARVIEW
Service provider Cassling Diagnostic Imaging (CDI of Omaha, Neb.) in May signed on for the Nexterna Clearview Web-based field service management application.

Nexterna Clearview will allow CDI technicians to retrieve and update customer work order information directly from the field. It also provides them with the ability to update the status of calls, close work orders and amend part inventories from their hand-held PDAs.

“Having easy access from the field to complete service information in one screen is a great productivity enhancement for our technicians,” Steve Chambers, Cassling’s chief financial officer, said in a prepared statement. “The system will eliminate much of the paperwork technicians have to deal with today.

“We expect the new Web-based system to further enhance the quality of our service and the efficiency of our operations,” he added.

CDI is a service provider and distributor for Siemens Medical Solutions Inc. (Malvern, Pa.). The company offers on-site repair, remote diagnostics and support services.


DEMAND GROWS FOR RADIATION THERAPISTS
The call is going out for radiation therapists.

In an annual survey of healthcare recruiting trends and incentives, healthcare staffing firm Allied Consulting (Dallas) has found that the demand for radiation therapists is surging, as more patients require cancer treatment.

As demand rises, so do salaries. The study found that compensation for radiation therapists increased 22 percent last year, from an average of $49,500 in 2001 to an average of $60,500 in 2002.

Among a radiation therapist’s skills is the ability to operate a linear accelerator to direct cancer treatment for patients.

“It takes a considerable amount of training to operate these machines and there are fewer than 15,000 certified radiation therapists in the country,” John Hawkins, vice president of Allied Consulting, noted in a prepared statement. “We expect there to be approximately 5,000 cancer treatment center sites soon, so the workforce is being spread very thin.”

Radiation therapists are not alone in healthcare facilities’ searches to find more qualified staff.

The number of searches Allied Consulting conducted for radiologic technologists increased by 78 percent in 2002, while the number of searches for nuclear medicine technologists, CT technologists and mammographers also rose.

According to Hawkins, the types of diagnostic imaging devices and the situations in which they are used have increased in recent years, driving the need for imaging technologists.

The number of searches Allied Consulting conducted for certified registered nurses anesthetists (CRNAs) grew 64 percent in 2002, while average salaries offered to CRNAs increased from $118,000 in 2001 to $129,000 in 2002. Some facilities reportedly offered CRNAs salaries as great as $180,000 last year.


DATEX-OHMEDA ADDS MEASUREMENT MODULE TO ‘ADEQUACY OF ANESTHESIA’ SYSTEM
Datex-Ohmeda (Madison, Wis.) recently added to its System 5 product line with the M-Entropy module, touted as an addition to the company’s “Adequacy of Anesthesia” concept.

The M-Entropy measurement module is part of an integrated Adequacy of Anesthesia system that helps clinicians gain a complete picture of the patient’s status. The company says the new module may enable anesthesiologists to ensure faster and more predictable wake-up and extubation, while also helping to prevent unexpected recovery and unnecessarily deep anesthesia.

Entropy is a monitoring modality that provides information on the electrical activity of the central nervous system during general anesthesia. Entropy monitoring uses the Datex-Ohmeda entropy algorithm, an application of spectral entropy based on information theory, to acquire and process raw electroencephalography and frontalis electromyography signals.

The M-Entropy module, together with the L-Ane03(A) software, has been available in Europe since January. The M-Entropy module has received FDA 510(k) clearance; however, the L-Ane03(A) software is awaiting regulatory approval in the United States and Canada.

Datex-Ohmeda is a division of Instrumentarium (Helsinki).


‘So come up to the lab, and see what’s on the slab’
BrainLab Announces First Installation of BrainSuite

BrainLab Inc. (Westchester, Ill) has embarked on the first worldwide installation of its BrainSuite neurosurgical operating room (OR).

The recipient is Staten Island (N.Y.) University Hospital. Plans are to complete the installation in September and to begin treating patients in October.

BrainSuite, which is pending FDA clearance for some of its components, combines image-guided surgery (IGS), intra-operative MRI, visualization and data management technology. The neurosurgical OR includes a Magnetom 1.5 Tesla high-field MRI scanner from Siemens Medical Solutions USA Inc. (Malvern, Pa.).

“It allows [neurosurgeons] to perform all the high-grade diagnostic scans — MR spectroscopy, functional MR, perfusion tests — they would require to define how well they have done with surgery,” said Doug Garrabrant, BrainSuite manager for North America.

BrainSuite applications include tumor resections, vascular neurosurgery, and aneurysms, as well as less complicated procedures, such as catheter and needle placements. Garrabrant said that some prospective facilities have discussed the possibility of spine procedures and head and neck biopsies with BrainSuite.

“From the neck down, there is not a lot being done now with interoperative MR,” added Garrabrant, “but many sites are interested in looking at this application for procedures, such as prostate seed implants.”

The estimated cost of BrainSuite is between $5 million to $6 million, depending on configuration. The OR would include the Siemens’ Magnetom, related surgical and scanning devices and MR-compatible anesthesia equipment.

As for infrastructure, a facility would need magnetic shielding of the room and a floor that can hold a MRI magnet of approximately 12,000 pounds.

Because the process consists of integrated and automated processes, a patient can be moved from an operating position to a scanning position and then back to the operating position within four to seven minutes.

“All the new images are automatically loaded to the image-guided platform and [doctors] are navigating on all new images,” Garrabrant added. “There is no delay.”

BrainLab’s corporate headquarters are located in Munich. The company could have an installation in Europe and four or five orders before the end of the year.

Staten Island University Hospital is a multisite, academic medical center, which offers services such as stereotactic radiosurgery, the Heart Institute of Staten Island, a regional burn center, trauma center, breast imaging center and Center for the Surgical Treatment of Obesity.


NELLCOR, CONSORTA INK 2-YEAR DEAL
Nellcor (Pleasanton, Calif.), a business unit of Tyco Healthcare, recently signed a two-year agreement with group purchasing organization (GPO) Consorta Inc. (Chicago) for Nellcor’s WarmTouch Convective Air Warming systems and the Mon-a-therm line of temperature monitors and probes.

The agreement, which was effective March 1, expands Nellcor’s longstanding relationship with Consorta. Nellcor’s existing contract with Consorta covers Nellcor pulse oximetry products and two of its key airway management products: Mallinckrodt endotracheal tubes and Shiley tracheostomy tubes.

The WarmTouch Convective Air Warming System consists of a selection of patient blankets that are filled with warm air though a blower unit, creating a warming system to help control patient body temperature and prevent hypothermia during and after surgical procedures.

Mon-a-therm temperature monitors and probes are designed for use in various clinical settings, including the operating room, the emergency department, postanesthesia care and intensive care units.


INVENSYS POWERWARE SIGNs WITH PREMIER GPO
Invensys Powerware (Raleigh, N.C.) in the first quarter signed a three-year contract with the group-purchasing arm of Premier Inc. (San Diego).

The agreement calls for the Invensys Powerware Strategic Power Management line of products and services to be made available to Premier’s group purchasing organization (GPO) members in the United States and Puerto Rico.

The Strategic Power Management line incorporates current technology, integrated solutions, system control and comprehensive service offerings. Packages are designed by integrating uninterruptible power systems (UPSs), transient voltage surge suppression (TVSS), power-distribution units (PDUs) and static transfer switches, batteries and flywheels, monitoring and management software, and adding service support.

“After many months and an extremely comprehensive evaluation, we are pleased to be selected by Premier as a valued partner,” Jack Gamble, director of National Accounts, said in a prepared statement. “The addition of Invensys Powerware as a preferred vendor broadens Premier’s offerings to its healthcare provider members [making available] end-to-end power protection and management solutions, including UPS, power management software, ancillary equipment, and corrective and preventative maintenance to protect critical healthcare systems and data from devastating power problems.”