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How Alliance Medical hit 'a new level of compliance'

Founded in 1989, Alliance Medical is Europe's leading independent provider of diagnostic and molecular imaging, combining scanning and radiopharmaceutical technology with integrated patient services. 

With a strong focus on delivering exceptional patient care, the company has expanded its operation to seven countries.

But the quality team faced a dilemma: with finite hours in the day, how do you get everyone in your business to support, engage with and contribute to quality without compromising the customer focus at the heart of your culture?

In 2017, Alliance Medical implemented Qualsys's software solution to do just that. We caught up with the team at the Limerick office to explore the impact. 

Watch the ten-minute video or read the transcript below.

 

 

 

 

Qualsys: How do you approach and manage quality in such a tightly regulated sector?

Brian: We're accredited by CHKS and their international standards, and we're also abiding by ISO 9001:2015. Then there's a range of other regulations we have to meet, such as data protection with the new GDPR introduced, MRI safety regulations, radiation protection regulations, health and safety regulations. The list is endless, to be honest!

Eimear: Obviously we are a business that has to have policies and procedures in place because patient safety has to be #1. If something goes wrong with patient safety, it's like the airline industry: if there's an airline accident, that's it and the business is gone. It's essentially the same. We have to ensure our staff are informed and supported when it comes to policies and procedures.

 

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Alliance Medical's dedication to excellent patient service

has allowed the company to expand across Europe

 

Ellen: You see the need to deliver a service that's fast, that's efficient, but that also takes the needs of the patient into account. I always say to our staff, "try and visualise this from the patient's perspective. Put yourself in the patient's shoes."

If we're doing audits or anything like that, we try to walk the patient pathway. From the time they send in their referral to us to the time they walk through the door, get their scan and leave, we have to make sure we're ticking all the boxes for them. That's the big thing for me. I just want patients to go away happy and reassured, and feeling we did everything we could that day to put them at ease.

 

Patient safety has to be #1. If something goes wrong with patient safety, it's like the airline industry: if there's an airline accident, that's it and the business is gone. It's essentially the same. We have to ensure our staff are informed and supported when it comes to policies and procedures.

                                                         - Eimear O'Donnell, HR Manager

 

Qualsys: What was your main business challenge before you sourced our solution? What was holding you back as a business?

Gillian: For me personally it was manual entry. Everything was Excel, everything was Word. It was chasing people by email, letting them know that things were due. Yes, we do send out a quality schedule every year so everybody should know when things are due, but of course people are busy and patient focus is the foremount of the company - so in one sense you're asking people to concentrate on the patients, then in another sense you're dancing behind them going, "where's this audit? Why aren't you logging this incident or complaint?"

It was so manual, people weren't engaging with it.

Ellen: Whether it was time to complete an audit, time to log an incident, time to log a complaint, it all became very burdensome on the site and the staff involved.

 

In one sense you're asking people to concentrate on the patients, then in another sense you're dancing behind them going, "where's this audit? Why aren't you logging this incident or complaint?" It was so manual, people weren't engaging with it.

                       - Gillian O'Connor, Quality & Processes Coordinator

 

 

alliance medical quality software

 Alliance Medical wanted to embed quality across their

entire workforce without breaking their patient focus

 

Qualsys: What made you start looking for an EQMS solution? And why did you choose us?

Brian: We went through our ISO 9001 site surveillance last year. One of the recommendations was to look into getting an electronic quality management system, because the auditor felt our current process would struggle with the expansion plans of the company.

Gillian: We saw a good few vendors, we met with a lot of people. They just weren't meeting what we needed; so they'd tick off three boxes out of four, but the fourth would be the biggest thing that we wanted. 

Then we'd meet another vendor who could do two out of four, and for the other two they'd have to see as they went along. So the confidence really wasn't there to jump with any supplier; they couldn't give us the guarantees. Everything was, "we'll see when we come to it", and we'd have been a few months into a project by then. That wasn't really good enough. We needed to know from the start that everything was customisable and configurable. 

And that's where Qualsys came in; that's why we went that route. And it was great, to be honest.

Ellen: We're not operating in one hospital, we have 24 sites throughout the country, all very remote from each other. We needed a system which we could roll out to different sites, possibly sitting on different networks. That whole implementation, from an IT perspective, needed to be easy.

 

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Alliance operates 24 sites across Ireland

 

Brian: When we looked at the system, we knew from Qualsys's previous experience with customers and from the various customer references that I'd got that the system was highly configurable. I was very confident from seeing the system with Michael Ord [New Business & Marketing Director] and Liam Pollard [Service Implementation Manager] that it could meet our needs, that we could configure it to meet our needs.

 

We saw a good few vendors, we met with a lot of people. They just weren't meeting what we needed; they'd tick off three boxes out of four, but the fourth would be the biggest thing that we wanted. 

We needed to know from the start that everything was customisable and configurable. And that's where Qualsys came in; that's why we went that route. And it was great, to be honest.

                       - Gillian O'Connor, Quality & Processes Coordinator

 

Qualsys: How is our solution used at Alliance Medical?

Brian: So with Issue Manager, we've divided everything out into incidents, complaints, data breaches, access requests and safety alerts.

Ellen: Those are captured in the system. People log on, log an incident or complaint and it follows through to quality for root cause analysis. Then if there's recommendations or corrective actions to be taken, we set those as tasks in the system for people to close out.

 

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The Alliance team migrated their policies and processes into an

electronic quality management system supplied by Qualsys

 

Gillian: Issue Manager is my little baby. I love how I can customise it. We are two months in with Issue Manager and our engagement is through the roof. We're about 25% up on the incidents and complaints that used to be logged, which is just massive for us. 

I timed it one day; our staff are now capable of opening Issue Manager and logging an incident or complaint in 30 or 40 seconds. That is just... invaluable to our manpower.

We want our staff to focus on our patients and the services that we provide. We don't want them bogged down with paperwork and that's what was happening.

 

We're not operating in one hospital, we have 24 sites throughout the country, all very remote from each other. We needed a system which we could roll out to different sites, possibly sitting on different networks. That whole implementation, from an IT perspective, needed to be easy.

                                        - Ellen Leacy, Quality & Processes Manager

 

Ellen: We can publish an audit, we can set tasks to staff members, they get reminders from the system, they aren't getting hounded by us via email. The email traffic alone associated with quality has come right down, because everything is now in the system. 

We had a manual document control system and it becomes very difficult to manage. Even in terms of when a policy is due for review, all of that was managed in Excel spreadsheets. Just having a system that prompts you and says, "hi, I'm due a review" is amazing.

 

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An ISO 9001 auditor recommended Alliance Medical source an electronic quality management solution to support their expansion plans

 

Michelle: Even if you don't know what policy might be relevant, if you put in a search term you're going to find policies that are relevant to it. It's just much easier for people to find policies and procedures now, or even be aware of what applies to them.

 

The email traffic alone associated with quality has come right down, because everything is now in the system. Just having a system that prompts you and says, "hi, I'm due a review" is amazing.

                                         - Ellen Leacy, Quality & Processes Manager

 

Gillian: You know, the way the world is going it just seems to be getting worse and worse every week as we go on; there's different things we have to comply with, there's different rules and regulations, and I just think that the days of expecting people to manually read things and taking their word for it are gone. You can't rely on that anymore. For us to be able to print out a graph or report on who has read what and who hasn't, it's a new level of compliance for us.

Ellen: We want to make quality really embedded. Easy to achieve. It shouldn't be difficult, it should be the norm. By having a system that makes the processes, documentation and administrative work associated with quality easier, it will make it better - because people will be more inclined to engage with it. 

 

Issue Manager is my little baby. I love how I can customise it. We are two months in with Issue Manager and our engagement is through the roof. We're about 25% up on the incidents and complaints that used to be logged, which is just massive for us. 

Our staff are now capable of opening Issue Manager and logging an incident or complaint in 30 or 40 seconds. That is just invaluable to our manpower. It's a new level of compliance for us.

                           - Gillian O'Connor, Quality & Processes Coordinator

 

Qualsys: What's been the impact of becoming our customer and using our software?

Eimear: Previously we've rolled out lots of IT systems and traditionally there's always challenges. You will always hear people being negative and there's lots of negative feedback when it comes to IT systems. This is the first IT system where all I've heard is really positive feedback.

Ellen: It has been really well received in the company. We've done a lot of IT projects and this has by far... the change management associated with it has been so little. It's just been a really successful implementation. It's been brilliant. 

 

This is the first IT system where all I've heard is really positive feedback.

                                                           - Eimear O'Donnell, HR Manager

 

Brian: From an Alliance Medical point of view, it's completely changed the whole quality management perspective. It's increased engagement and it's brought the company together in my opinion.

Gillian: Even now, and we're only two months in, the difference has just been amazing, to be honest. Everything in the one place. I'm not trawling through my emails anymore looking for a reply to this complaint or a reply to that, it's all in the issue and for me it's fantastic.

 

Qualsys's system has completely changed the whole quality management perspective. It's increased engagement and it's brought the company together.

                                                            - Brian Goldrick, Quality Manager

 

Ellen: In terms of winning new business, being more resilient as a company, being easier to publish data and be more open and transparent with our commissioners and patients, it was a must. It was a really essential thing to do in the organisation. 

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Next steps

See why York Instruments don't prepare for their medical device audits by watching the case study video here.

Or download our life science case study booklet to see how a range of medical companies use our software to embed quality and compliance across their operations.

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Tags: ISO 9001, Case Studies, Continuous Improvement, GRC Leadership, Success Stories, High growth business, Culture of Excellence, Customer Success