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Northern Ireland completes digitisation of pathology


Mark Say Managing Editor

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Health and Social Care Service in Northern Ireland has completed a programme to digitise pathology images and combine them with those from radiology.

The Business Services Organisation (BSO) has implemented the change, bringing the two together within Northern Ireland’s Picture Archiving and Communication System (NIPACS).

It has worked on the project with imaging solutions company Sectra in a move to help future proof diagnostics for healthcare professionals across the region.

Pathologists across the region perform around 40 million diagnostic tests each year. The implementation of the technology – which has involved a series of local deployments since an addendum contract signing in 2019 – is replacing microscopes and glass slides with high quality digital images.

Virtual laboratory potential

Dr Clare McGalie, responsible for the digital pathology project in the BSO, said: “We now have the potential for our four laboratories to act as one virtual laboratory. Annotation and measurement tools are particularly useful for skin and breast reporting.

“Remote working and home working is important in making our workforce more mobile and flexible. There is a lot of work underway worldwide to bring forward AI in pathology. With our digital pathology system, we will be ready to embrace that in Northern Ireland.”

Radiologists in the region already use the same PACS to examine x-rays, ultrasounds, CT scans, MRIs and more, all of which is also now instantly available alongside pathology images in a single imaging record.

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