ChoiceHealth - changing imaging diagnostics for better

Back in 2015, our CEO and Founder, Pauric Greenan, worked at Clatterbridge Cancer Centre as the Imaging Systems Lead and as chair of Cheshire and Merseyside Imaging Consortium, with Dr. Riz Basit joining the team as an Oncology Consultant Radiologist soon after. Both of them saw first-hand the capacity strains within the world of radiology imaging with the many additional obligations and demands from medical research and clinical trials units, often resulting in delays. These difficulties would also leave Pharma, CRO companies and national research organisations facing SLA breaches. Hence why they set up Choice Teleradiology’, with the objective of freeing up clinical reporting time for the NHS and speeding up turnaround and access for Pharma and CROs.

Pauric and Riz also observed that most second and third reads within UK clinical trials were sent to the US for reading, largely as there was no UK specialists providing this service. With their strong technical and medical backgrounds, they knew they had two key attributes that could enable them to fill this gap – in-depth knowledge of the imaging systems and the technology required to manage imaging data, and a fantastic network of specialist consultant radiologists who trusted us, and were keen to work with them.

One of the key motivators which drove us, was witnessing the tumultuous impact that cancer has on patients’ lives, and the negative effect of drawn-out waiting times. There was one occasion when Pauric was working with a family whose child was suffering with a rare cancer, where the family was desperately seeking to send Imaging abroad to be reviewed by an expert. Unfortunately, the team had missed the last post, so Pauric drove to Liverpool Airport the next morning to physically put the CD on the DHL plane. Such was the impact of working with those directly affected, and desire to help.

We had also noticed an emerging issue, whereby specialist reporters had become marginalised, due to their decision to put their specialism to use in trials and research, rather than endure the low rates offered by the competitive NHS outsourcing system. We approached Professor Tony Young at NHS England’s Accelerated Access Collaborative, who told us about the NHS England Clinical Entrepreneur Programme, and much to our delight, we were accepted on to the Programme in 2018.

More recently, immense pressures are placed on imaging departments with yearly demand increases in clinical activity, and it’s not surprising that participation in clinical trial research is often seen as a lesser priority with requests to participate declined due to a mixture of personal, capacity, regulatory and logistics shortfalls. 

As a result, NHS trusts are struggling to participate in drug development clinical trials, with many of these research studies involving experimental investigational medicinal products with oncology applications that could benefit patients. We distinctly recognise that clinical radiology is under a severe strain at a present, and decided to offer an outsourced end-to-end solution including scanning, expert reporting and reader analysis, and medical physics support (MPE/CRE reviews) to help alleviate the pressure of delayed turnarounds and SLA breaches.

Having focused on International Teleradiology, rather than the competitive UK Teleradiology market, we have worked on some amazing TeleHealth projects globally. This venture quickly evolved into Choice expanding beyond radiology to work with consultants spanning many specialities. Now, we probably have just as many non-radiology consultants on the books, hence why we chose to rebrand to ‘Choice TeleMed’ 3 years ago. In terms of telehealth, COVID hitting was obviously an accelerant in this regard; indeed, across the whole of the healthcare sector, the pandemic served as a catalyst for digital transformation.

Over the past 4 years, I worked as PACS Imaging lead on one of the biggest Imaging projects in Europe (Greater Manchester NHS); this provided us with the fantastic opportunity to travel to on-site visits globally. We gained key insight into the cutting-edge of Imaging and AI innovation, which we have now incorporated within our own venture. Recently, a whole 8 years after first launching, we decided it was time for a fresh look and brand, to reflect our evolution. So, in February of this year, we relaunched simply as Choice Health. We have always wanted to keep the ‘Choice’ element of our brand name, but we decided to move away from ‘TeleMed.’ Our thinking was that people go for a medical, but they invest in their health.

Now, our main focus is on growing our Pharma and CRO client base, while also supporting the NIHR research and clinical trials units (CTUs) within the NHS with their capacity. One successful case study we’re proud of is that of a top 5 CROs, who were experiencing SLA and turnaround time breaches, where clinical workload was priority. Faced with the prospect of pulling their trials out of the North West region, they enlisted our help. We completed their work privately, while making use of the same consultants, but in their own private time. This worked to great success, resulting in the CRO staying in the NW and the NHS freeing up clinical time. We also recently launched a new venture – consultancy work. Our aim here is to help organisations build an effective digital imaging strategy, by working with them to formulate a plan, oversee the transition, and prepare their team for managing the system going forward.

Choice Health has a proven track record in the Clinical Trial Imaging area, working with global pharma, biotechnology and contract research organisations delivering consulting, regulatory and image analysis to powering endpoints in drug development.