NHS laboratories across Greater Manchester have begun to go live with a digital pathology module of an enterprise imaging solution.
Stockport NHS Foundation Trust, which hosts one of seven NHS laboratories in the city-region, has become the first to complete the implementation of the technology from Sectra for pathology images.
The same system is already being used by every trust in the region to view and report on radiology imaging.
Stockport’s technical deployment will be followed by other deployments in the region and a period of extensive clinical testing. This will eventually allow NHS pathologists to access digital images from anywhere in Greater Manchester.
Dr Shailesh Agrawal, clinical lead for Greater Manchester’s digital pathology programme and clinical director at Stockport NHS Foundation Trust, said: “This is so important for our speciality. Cellular pathology is a very physical process that has traditionally required pathologists to be in an office with a microscope.
“Digital pathology allows us to work from almost any location and will help us achieve our goals for collaborative working across Greater Manchester’s pathology network.”
Current pathology processes involve glass slides of patient tissues being packaged and transported to different locations, so that different specialists can review. Sectra said that delays like this will be removed once deployment across the region is complete, with digital images being instantly available through the region’s picture archiving and communication system.
Agrawal added: “It means we can use capacity across our region to best effect, more easily share sub-speciality expertise across organisations, and potentially tap into growing national digital pathology initiatives. Clinically it is a huge help…. Many consultants around retirement, who no longer wish to work in a hospital, will still be able to contribute at a time that suits them.”
The deployment represents a significant move towards an integrated diagnostic record for patients across Greater Manchester. Eight trusts have already completed deployment of the same imaging system for radiology, which now contains x-rays, CT scans, ultrasound, MRI scans and an extensive range of other diagnostic images for patients in the region.
Sectra said the deployment will also lay the foundations for the application of AI into the pathology environment, and support new ways of training the next generation of pathologists in the region.