Since it was established in Australia in 2004 as a direct subsidiary of its corporate headquarters in Sweden, Elekta Australasia has served the radiation oncology, medical oncology and neuroscience communities throughout Australia and New Zealand with world-class clinical solutions and services.
The company has worked with several prestigious hospitals in Australia, including the Princess Alexandra Hospital in Brisbane. Among Elekta’s missions are maintaining customer satisfaction
“Our prime focus is establishing high customer satisfaction and meeting customer expectations, and expectations are high in Australia,” said Managing Director Shaun Seery.
Technology and Innovations
Elekta pioneered the 4D CT technique, an imaging workflow that enables doctors to acquire images of moving targets in the body. Accordingly, 4D CT is particularly useful for treating lung cancer, in which tumors can change position with patient breathing.
Another innovation is the 160-leaf multileaf collimator (MLC), Agility™, a beam-shaping device that is the fastest in the industry. Combined with a High Dose Rate mode, clinicians can use the linear accelerator to treat patients faster and with greater therapeutic effect.
“If you can be more confident where you’re going to deliver the dose, you can deliver a higher dose to the tumor,” said Seery. “With that you’ll be able to hypofractionate for some indications, which would reduce the number of treatments the patient will have to come for.”
According to Seery, the best practice is eliminating the number of required treatments. Instead of having 30-35 treatments, the goal is to bring it down to 10-15.
The company prides itself on updating its technology and innovations, but being on the cutting edges comes with the challenge of ensuring patient safety.
“We’re regulated, so since we’re treating a patient directly, any type of new innovation needs to be made sure that it’s safe,” said Seery. “Everybody has regulatory bodies that look into these things, so it slows down our ability to bring the product to market. But they are necessary, and it’s something you have to work with to make sure the technology is safe.”
Elekta is in the process of installing one of its most complex and advanced pieces of equipment at Princess Alexandra Hospital, which is expected to be up and running later this year. Leksell Gamma Knife® Perfexion™ radiosurgery system will treat neurological disorders, specifically brain disorders, and brain cancer in a single treatment using precisely targeted pencil beams of radiation.
According to Shaun Seery, this machine will be the second one in Australia, and the first one in any Australian public hospital.
However, Seery believes there are even more new innovations on the horizon. One new technology he said is a high field MRI-guided radiation therapy system (MR Linac), which combines an imaging system with a linear accelerator to deliver therapy.
Seery said Elekta has received a lot of interest from some institutes in Australia, but, for now there are seven sites that are a part of the research consortium.
“It will be a huge game-changer when it comes out in the marketplace, because you’ll be able to image soft tissue in real time as you treat,” said Seery. “It will be good not only for increasing the dose you can safely give, but also for treating areas you wouldn’t traditionally think to treat with radiation.”
In addition, Seery said Elekta is looking forward to the arrival of Health Care Analytics, which he believes will make a big difference for knowledge-based software usage and product integration.
“With our innovations, you’ll see utilization of radiation therapy continue to rise mainly due to its non-invasive properties,” he observed. “Getting people back to their normal routines faster is a very important goal.”
New Way of Treatment
The oncology information system software and the depth of data that you get out of it and convert into knowledge is a field Elekta wants to further explore.
“If you have a large amount of information about patients and how they’re treated, and if you follow those patients for an extended period, you’ll obviously get a lot of data into how successful treatments were, and what the side effects were”.
“You will see trends beyond what you would conventionally see,” said Seery. “For example, you would see a particular group of people from a particular racial or cultural background respond better to a certain kind of treatment. That’s what we are looking at in the future, and using the knowledge gained from our software will enable that.”
Seery describes the practice as personalised health care. Elekta achieves this by using MOSAIQ®, which is a complete patient information management system that centralizes radiation oncology, particle therapy, and medical oncology patient data into a single user interface that can be accessible to multi-disciplinary teams across multiple locations.
“Instead of looking at a person’s sex and age to determine treatment we will look at many factors and these could include where they were born, their cultural and racial background and the food they grew up eating. From this information we could make a better informed decision on their treatment plan,” said Seery.
When a new support person joins Elekta, Seery said they go through several different training modules, including having employees relocated to Elekta’s offices in either North America or Europe to complete the training.
“We invest extensively on internal training,” Seery said. “It’s important our staff can deliver the best service possible to our customers which in turn impacts the patients. It’s one of the keys to what we do.”
Sharing of Ideas
Elekta hosts an annual user meeting which bring customers together in an attempt to share knowledge in a scientific, clinical-based form. Elekta believes the sharing of knowledge is to everyone’s benefits and opens up the forum to encourage customers to submit scientific papers as well as having international invited speakers talk about their latest finding and practices.
This year’s meeting will be held in Adelaide from October 24-26.
“This is a great opportunity for our customers to share experiences on what they’re working on as well as for Elekta to demonstrate to the same cohort our new releases and products” said Seery. “The event is a sharing of the mind, and we engage in a lot of social activities to encourage networking.
“Networking and the exchange of information is vital to continue providing the radiation oncology market with innovative and intelligent solutions.”