Patients in Oxford might soon receive faster diagnoses through the creation of a digital pathology network.
The Oxford University Hospitals (OUH) NHS Foundation Trust is working with healthtech company Philips to create a digital network that enables pathologists from different regions to collaborate remotely.
OUH will deploy Philips’ IntelliSite Pathology Solution to serve as a central laboratory for partner sites at Milton Keynes University Hospital NHS Foundation Trust and Great Western Hospital NHS Foundation Trust in Swindon.
The project is aiming to speed up disease diagnoses but also reduce the chance of delays. Traditionally, pathologists analyse tissue samples on glass slides under a microscope. If a pathologies requires a second opinion from a sub-specialist, these glass slides must be transported to a second site, which can result in lost or damaged slides or delays in diagnosis.
A digital network for pathology will allow clinicians across the three regions and within the Thames Valley Cancer Network to collaborate remotely on patient cases. It’s hoped that remote collaboration will help reduce delays in slide transport times, encourage more efficient workflows across the sites, and enable quicker access to specialist pathology opinions.
Professor Clare Verrill, honorary consultant in Cellular Pathology, Oxford University Hospitals, said: “As an NHS Global Digital Exemplar committed to improving patient care by embracing the latest digital technologies and cross-site collaborations, this partnership aims to modernise patient care and offer innovative world-leading services. Initially starting with some specialist areas, we hope to soon make our pathology services fully digital, meaning our laboratory teams can maximise efficiency and focus on analysing samples rather than spending time manually transporting slides between hospitals.”
Marlon Thompson, general manager of Philips Digital Pathology Solutions explained why it’s vital that the UK modernises its pathology services.
“With 70% of NHS diagnoses requiring a pathology sample, and with sample analysis becoming increasingly sophisticated while demand increases, Philips is committed to collaborating to modernise UK pathology services,” Thompson said. “Philips wants to help providers meet growing demand by moving pathology from the era of microscopes and fragile stacks of sample slides to one of clinical efficacy with sample images uploaded quickly and analysed robustly within the Philips IntelliSite Pathology Solution. I believe this agreement creates the first digital pathology network with scanning capabilities at multiple sites within the NHS in England, which is a great achievement and a very positive prospect for patients and clinicians alike.”