Across the finish line: Canon Medical UK at the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games

Canon Group prides itself on its expertise and capabilities that have made us one of the global leaders in imaging technologies. As part of our work at Canon Medical Systems UK, we have a long history of working in sports medicine, having partnered with various academic institutions and sporting organisations, such as Manchester United and the Sheffield Sharks for many years. These clinical collaborations help to provide athletes with early sports injury detection, faster rehabilitation, and more detailed clinical sports surveillance, plus they also help cascade knowledge into wider population health projects and fuel innovation in medical imaging applications for the NHS.

So, when the opportunity arose for Canon to become The Official Imaging Supporter, and for Canon Medical UK to be the Presenting Sponsor of the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games Polyclinics, we knew we would be able to provide world-class equipment across our print, camera, and medical imaging to the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games.

Our Experience: The Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games

The Games provided three Athlete Villages with Polyclinics spread across Birmingham: The University of Birmingham, Warwick, and the Birmingham NEC. At all three locations we delivered a comprehensive package of industry-leading diagnostic equipment where clinicians and athletes could experience the high quality of our imaging systems. Athletes were assessed for musculoskeletal sports-related issues for bone, muscle, tendon, or joint injury, without the need to be transferred to local hospitals. The polyclinics also provided on-site diagnostic support for elective sports medical assessments, such as cardiac or neurology.

Canon Medical UK’s equipment guaranteed optimal image quality and cutting edge technology for the Games’ clinician-volunteers, and clinical Application Specialists to use. This included innovative imaging technologies like the Ultrasound scanners’ revolutionary iBeam architecture with unparalleled processing power, as well as our RIS and PACS solution, Vitrea Connection, Speech Recognition, External Reporting Work and Vitrea Vision Diagnosing Viewer.

To help the clinician volunteers quickly settle into using our advanced equipment, Canon Medical UK provided access to comprehensive training material, made available via the Medical Imaging Academy  website. This unique resource is a complementary e-learning platform with live and on-demand expert training, face-to-face courses and a hub of invaluable ‘how-to’ guides for healthcare professionals to access 24-7-365. Canon Medical UK also provided a large team of experienced and HCPC accredited clinical applications specialists in addition to the remote support, described above.

Some of the clinician volunteers were trained on Canon’s MR scanner with Artificial intelligent Clear-IQ Engine (AiCE) software. This state-of-the-art Canon proprietary technology offers the ability to combine Compressed Speeder and AiCE which can significantly improve the throughput of the patient.  Dr Peter Chapman, a leading Consultant Musculoskeletal Radiologist in the UK, concurred that Canon’s MR with Artificial Intelligence (AI), was an outstanding imaging system that quickly provides exceptional and crystal-clear images.

Alongside our Artificial Intelligence technology, we also provide Healthcare IT with cloud-based technology. These developments ensure that Canon remain at the forefront of the requirements of the world’s rapidly developing healthcare economy. For the Games, this meant that scans could be accessed securely by athletes’ doctors outside of the site location. It was fantastic to have showcased how our equipment can ensure an interconnected society, something which is increasingly important with the emergence of pop-up imaging facilities, such as within the polyclinics, or within mobile, modular units or buildings outside of a hospital setting, such as a Community Diagnostic Centres.

Commenting on what the technology means for athletes, Zak Skinner, Paralympian said: “The care and services that the polyclinics offer athletes during competitions provides the immediate support an athlete needs to help with early detection, prevention and faster rehabilitation of sports injuries.”

Indeed, the speed of diagnosis is key for early prevention and our vast range of technologies enhances this. For instance, our speech recognition software at the polyclinics enables radiologists to digitally dictate athletes’ scan results, diagnosis, and rehabilitation advice. This speeds up the process of diagnosis and is a huge strength of Canon Medical UK’s products.

Over the 12 days of the Games, and in support of over 4,500 athletes, Canon is proud to say that 737 imaging volunteers had the opportunity to experience our equipment, taking a total of 592 scans. Not only were we able to support those with injuries but we could help prepare these athletes to be in the best physical health before and throughout the competition.

Our Skill: Project Management & Logistics

Providing this specialised equipment with tight deadlines and within budget is not an easy feat. However, our skills, experience and expertise mean we can confidently deliver complex projects that provide bespoke solutions to the customer’s requirements. This could involve finding a site through to the construction of the building that will house Canon Medical UK’s diagnostic equipment, as well as a sporting arena such as the Park Community Arena (Canon Medical Arena) we are building currently. We can, and do, provide bespoke end-to-end solutions

One challenge that both the building and imaging industries are currently facing is having access to resources. The pandemic and supply-chain issues have created resource constraints of both the infrastructure and equipment when building modular units. Fortunately, we have access to a dedicated factory in Hull to deploy our resources. This allows us to continue to be flexible, agile and quickly deliver diagnostic imaging equipment, which results in reducing lead times and cost, ultimately meaning greater affordability.

For the Games, due to the location of the site within the University of Birmingham’s Athletes’ Village, the delivery of our MRI unit required expert management. The University campus was an enclosed, off-road site surrounded by large trees, meaning we were unable to place the MRI directly in position from the lorry. Instead, with our expert knowledge and use of specialist equipment, a self-propelled Modular Transporter, the unit was placed in position with ease. As this type of equipment is not readily available in the UK, our specialism and foresight ensured the project remained on track.

Speaking about one process of the project’s management, Ian Watson, UK Director of Commercial Solutions, Canon Medical Systems Ltd explains, “The MRI Modular buildings are extremely heavy – around 30 tonnes – so project planning is vital. The physics behind achieving the best image quality from the MRI scanner is also key. The scanner uses RF technology and to ensure high image quality it is essential that the scanner be shielded from interference from other RF signals. Therefore, locations away from moving traffic, lifts and substations are critical.”

Overall, Canon can support the bespoke diagnostic imaging requirements within any environment due to our match-fit capabilities. This includes supplying equipment in a ‘pop-up’ facility at Birmingham 2022, a relocatable MRI Unit at a hospital, modular equipment buildings for a Community Diagnostic Centre, as well as the complete project management and build of a sports arena with a diagnostic imaging centre at  Park Community Arena (Canon Medical Arena). Ultimately, the services and complete end-to-end solutions that Canon provides create better and more open access for those using the sites, meaning outcomes are better and costs are reduced.

Our Mission: Sustainability

On all our projects, we are always conscious of the legacy we leave. As a company, we are committed to becoming carbon net-zero and undertake several initiatives to protect the planet and promote greater prosperity across the communities we work in.

The Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games had an aim to be the first edition with a carbon-neutral legacy. To support this, Canon Medical is offsetting the carbon emitted across the entire lifecycle of our equipment provided, as well as the carbon generated by our community at the three onsite Polyclinics. This includes the creation of our equipment, transportation to the sites, installation, running and removal of equipment, as well as its onward journey to its next destination.

In addition, all employee travel and accommodation throughout the Games will form part of Canon’s carbon-offsetting calculations, with a total offsetting amount of 132.6 tCO2e (tonne CO2 equivalent), through our India wind turbine project. Our support of this project aligns with the UN’s seventh Sustainable Development Goal: Affordable and Clean Energy for All.

Furthermore, as part of the polyclinic infrastructure at the Games, supporting materials, such as clinic floors and walls from one of the Nightingale Hospitals, were utilised. After the Games, the MRI units and Ultrasound scanners were made available to the market to provide additional diagnostic imaging capacity in the community. As well as this, a significant portion of the infrastructure are being repurposed to suit other medical environments. We believe it is imperative to act with the circular economy in mind to support our journey to become carbon net-zero.

Beyond the Games

Canon works with local communities and have been working with a renowned professional men’s basketball team, the Sheffield Sharks, to create and run our RESPECT programme. As part of this, we have hosted workshops on cyber-bullying, bullying and health and fitness for disadvantaged communities across the region.

We are delighted to have extended this programme into Birmingham and entering a new partnership with the basketball team, the City of Birmingham Rockets to support the initiative. In the lead-up to the Birmingham Commonwealth Games 2022, we delivered these workshops to 1,500 school children and facilitated a 3×3-basketball tournament to promote sport, health and fitness.

Canon is constantly redefining the world of imaging for the greater good. Through our technology and spirit of innovation, we believe we push the boundaries of imaging possibility in ways the industry has never seen before.

With this perspective, Canon can support the future diagnostic imaging demand within any setting; whether this is at another Commonwealth Games, within another sporting arena or within a hospital or community setting for our treasured NHS, Canon can and will deliver. Together, we can change the landscape of diagnostic services and, in turn, change the lives of patients everywhere.

Photo Caption 1: MRI modular unit enabled clinicians to quickly and digitally assess common musculoskeletal sports related issues on-site

Photo Caption 2: Vantage Orian 1.5T MRI scanner housed in a modular unit, featuring Canon Medical UK’s pioneering Advanced Intelligent Clear-IQ Engine (AiCE), a Deep Learning Reconstruction technology.

Photo Caption 3: MRI modular unit delivery to the University of Warwick pre-Games