1. What is Digital Pathology?
From the Royal College of Pathologists:
Digital pathology includes the acquisition, management, sharing and interpretation of pathology information — including slides and data — in a digital environment. Digital slides are created when glass slides are captured with a scanning device, to provide a high-resolution image that can be viewed on a computer screen or mobile device.
2. why digital pathology?
- Patient identification – electronic barcoding and traceability of samples.
- Remote reporting – secure electronic transfer / viewing of slides from the laboratory to the pathologist.
- Share work – makes it easier to share cases between multiple pathologists. The ease with which second opinions can be sought may help to improve the overall quality of services.
3. problems with digital pathology?
- Requires massive investment in IT infrastructure (this alone costing between £2 million – £4 million per hospital according the Royal College of Pathologists), specialist hardware and software, staff training and validation .
- Slow – scanning each slide can take anywhere from 1 minute to 10 minutes. Much slower than simply putting the slide onto a microscope and reading it.
- Creates huge amounts of data – each slide can range from 100MB to 5GB – all of which needs to be stored, transferred and backed-up.
- Still requires a physical slide to be produced so is not cutting-out or improving any current part of the workflow.
4. our solution – walk before you can run!
- Every Pathology Lab needs to be using a barcoding system.
- Every Pathologist should be capturing images of slides with a simple microscope camera.
- Images should be stored to a secure server location using a standard naming protocol (e.g. patient number, date, user, speciality, etc) and regularly backed-up.
- Lab Information Management Systems (LIMS) need to be modern, user-friendly and be able to handle simple images for pathology reporting.
- Simple telepathology systems (remote controlled microscopes) for remote and speedy diagnosis e.g. frozen sections.