Barts Health embarks on digital pathology programme for three million people

A programme to enhance patient diagnoses, speed up turnaround times and modernise pathology services has begun at Barts Health NHS Trust. The initiative is expected to improve clinical collaboration and access to specialists, build foundations for the introduction of AI, and harness data to support life sciences and clinical research.

The trust is deploying a digital pathology network in order to equip pathologists with advanced imaging technology analysis tools and the means to better collaborate, in order to improve reporting of examinations for a population of more than three million people.

Delivered in collaboration with Sectra, the progamme is being deployed across four hospitals, with the help of funding provided by Barts Charity. The scalable imaging technology platform underpinning the initiative will provide potential for expansion to further trusts.

According to chief information officer Sarah Jensen, it will transform how multidisciplinary teams function: “A cancer MDT might have a radiologist, a histopathologist and an oncologist or clinician in the room,  deciding a treatment plan, diagnosis or therapy. Currently there is still a microscope and a radiology workstation in the room. In the Sectra system, professionals can pull up radiology images and pathology images simultaneously, allowing better comparisons and more objective clinical decisions, while saving significant preparation time that would be otherwise required ahead of meetings.”

Consultant histopathologist and clinical lead for the digital pathology programme Dr Hasan Rizvi said: “We are creating a connected network of pathologists. It will be much easier for pathologists to collaborate with colleagues and to instantly share a link to images with other specialists for their input, potentially bringing expertise from across London, the UK or even from around the world, to our patients.” Pathologists will interact with a PACS provided by Sectra, which will display high resolution images of slides on screen. The trust’s radiologists already use the enterprise platform to examine x-ray, CT and MR images.

“Removing analogue workflow processes will remove unnecessary delays in diagnoses, which in the case of acute tumours could mean the difference between life and death,” continued Dr Rizvi. “Staff will no longer need to prepare slides to be sent via courier, where they might be broken or go missing. We will also be better positioned to produce the next generation of pathologists.”

Picture: The Sectra system enables radiology and pathology images to be viewed simultaneously.

Published on page 8 of the December 2021 issue of RAD Magazine.

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