East of England trusts to digitise pathology through cloud service contract with Sectra

Two NHS trusts in the east of England will transform pathology services for a population of more than a million people, following an agreement signed in April with Sectra.

Pathologists working at East Suffolk and North Essex NHS Foundation Trust and West Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust will be able to collaborate more effectively, as they move away from microscopes and glass slides to analysing high resolution digital images that can be accessed from almost anywhere. Multidisciplinary teams will also be able to view images without delay and the trusts will have the ability to pool their pathology resources to make best use of capacity, while improving working flexibility through home working.

Pathology project manager at the west Suffolk trust Sarah Rollo said: “The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the importance of being able to access slides remotely and the ability to provide flexibility and resilience in our service. Our consultants will have the ability to report routine and urgent work from home, shortly after it has been issued out of the laboratory. Consultants will be able to work collaboratively on cases from remote locations with simultaneous access to view and annotate patient slides. As a district general hospital, a proportion of our patients are referred to specialist hospitals. Improved data sharing with these specialist centres will improve the turnaround time in the patient’s pathway.”

The digital programme is expected to support specialist pathways, such as cancer pathways. It will support around 1.5 million examinations a year, and will also pave the way for introducing emerging technologies such as AI into the diagnostic process.

The trusts are said to be the first in the UK to deploy a digital pathology solution using Microsoft Azure cloud infrastructure, with a fully managed service provided by Sectra minimising IT and infrastructure burdens for the trusts. This will allow the trusts to make use of archive storage facilities now available in the cloud, that will help to manage high volumes of data associated with digital pathology at a sustainable cost.

Picture: Multidisciplinary teams will also be able to view images without delay.

Published on page 14 of the August 2022 issue of RAD Magazine.

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