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Study highlights the benefits of newer radiotherapy equipment on patient safety and productivity

Monday 21 September 2015

NHS Supply Chain and The University of York’s Health Economic Consortium collaborated in early 2015 on a ground breaking study on the use of cancer treatment systems and the patient benefits of using newer equipment over older. The study is one of the first in this area and questioned key opinion leaders, over 40 radiologists, various clinical staff and service managers across England to understand how they view current equipment levels to be operating and helping to improve care outcomes.

The study reveals that there is considerable potential to assist decision makers and other NHS personnel in understanding how equipment age influences overall patient outcomes and the service’s ability to provide the most appropriate treatments.

The study raised some previously unconsidered points regarding patient safety with respondents stating that newer technology allows them to provide more targeted treatments with lower radiation doses, fewer and less severe side effects along with higher treatment success rates. Such benefits, it was felt, are harder to achieve with older equipment.

Respondents also felt that lower ownership costs were associated with operating newer equipment due to lower maintenance costs.

A number of clinical risks were identified through the study:

  • Lower reliability: 100% of respondents highlighted this as a risk associated with the use of older MRI equipment and 80% for CT.
  • Lower treatment success rates and higher side effects: 67% of respondents identified this as a risk associated with the use of older Linear Accelerator equipment.
  • Lower diagnostic capability: 90% of respondents identified this as a clinical risk associated with the use of older MRI equipment and 80% for CT equipment.
  • Slower throughput: 100% of respondents highlighted this as a risk associated with the use of older MRI equipment and 76% for CT.
  • Improved patient radiation safety: 56% of respondents highlighted this as a benefit associated with the latest Linear Accelerator equipment.

This study is the first step to providing much some needed expert insights on the subject which NHS Supply Chain is keen to share with the wider radiology and health community.

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