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Finding the Right Sound, Ultrasound

May 1, 2007
by Michelle Grey
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VIHA signs an $11 million agreement with GE Healthcare

The Vancouver Island Health Authority (VIHA), headquartered in Victoria, British Columbia, has selected Barrington, Ill.-headquartered GE Healthcare (GE) to provide $11 million of ultrasound equipment to 11 of its healthcare facilities, over the next eight years.
Heather Gibson

According to Heather Gibson, director of medical imaging, VIHA, the agreement allows her group to purchase 48 ultrasound systems — used to diagnose medical conditions such as cardiovascular disease, cancer, trauma, and prenatal care — and to collaborate with GE to research and develop new healthcare technologies.

Gibson claims it took about a year to make the final selection.

"We requested proposals from a variety of companies, and performed clinical and technological assessments on the top four, which were Malvern, Pa.-based Siemens Medical Imaging, Waukesha, Wis.-based GE Medical Systems, Tustin, Calif.-based Toshiba Medical Systems, and Andover, Mass.-based Philips Medical Systems," she explains.

According to Gibson, a panel of VIHA technologists and radiologists put each piece of equipment though rigorous testing. "We did side-by-side comparisons on each machine over a four week period. A group of technologists and radiologists looked at the data in order to determine which ultrasound system was the best," Gibson says.

Interestingly, she claims that the radiologists rated all the machines as equal, so VIHA's choice of vendor came down to which company could offer the best deal. "Financial and strategic alliance were very important for us. GE offered to refresh our machines every four years, which we are very happy about. This agreement means that we will always have state-of-the-art ultrasound equipment in our facilities," Gibson says.

"Not only were we happy with the agreement on a financial level, we feel that we are also getting superior equipment," Gibson says. According to GE, ultrasound technology has changed significantly over the past five years. "Not only are the machines lighter in weight and ergonomically superior, GE machines offer volumetric imaging. Better imaging techniques enable physicians and radiographers to detect issues even earlier," she explains.

She adds that the most important aspect of the process was involving the technologists and radiologists, "because it's such a subjective technology."

Gibson contends that the VIHA and GE agreement will yield an overall cost savings of approximately $4 million over the life of the contract.


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