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Barts Health builds digital pathology network

08/11/21

Mark Say Managing Editor

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Barts Health NHS Trust has started to deploy a digital pathology network across its four hospitals.

Abstract of medical image icons

The programme is being delivered in collaboration with medical imaging IT and cyber security company Sectra with the help of funding provided by Barts Charity.

It involves pathologists using the company’s picture archiving and communication system, which is already used in the trust by radiologists to examine patient images including x-rays, CT scans, and MRIs.

Sectra said the scalable imaging technology platform underpinning the initiative will also provide potential for future expansion of the programme to additional trusts.

Dr Hasan Rizvi, a consultant histopathologist at Barts Health, and clinical lead for the digital pathology programme, said: “We are creating a connected network of pathologists. People will no longer be chained to microscopes.

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.

“Removing analogue workflow processes will remove unnecessary delay in diagnoses, which in the case of acute tumours, could mean the difference between life and death.”

Rizvi added that patients will have access to their pathology images when moving between hospitals and seeking second opinions.

Prevention and problem solving

Sarah Jensen, chief information officer at Barts Health NHS Trust, said: “Digitising pathology is fundamental to Barts Health making great strides towards preventative care, to solving problems for the people who need it the most, to removing geography constraints for our workforce and to opening research potential for one of the largest trusts in the NHS.

“This programme is hugely important to connecting the dots for life sciences – a central focus for the future of our health services. Codified data will contribute to developing longitudinal health records for patients. And researchers will be able to inform research and back up findings with links to slides.

“For patients with cancer and other rare diseases, this is a high priority, allowing us to bring together pockets of clinical information, to build the infrastructure needed for genomic sequencing and to build a data core that includes pathology.”

Image from iStock, metamorworks

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