In digital pathology patient tissue samples are scanned to create digital images of the tissue, which can be analyzed on a computer screen. The digital environment is a valuable tool for the pathologist to detect, measure and grade diagnostic. The digitization of the pathology workflow has the potential to increase both efficiency and quality of care.
Today, the majority of patient tissue samples are analyzed in a microscope. Diagnostic pathology is of crucial importance for health care, especially cancer care. Pathologists analyze tissue from the patient to determine its characteristics (histology). This knowledge is used to find the correct diagnosis and therapy. Due to lack of pathologists in Sweden, the waiting time for the pathology report is often long, with an anxious wait and delayed therapy for the patient as a result.
Digitizing the pathology workflow
In digital pathology the histology samples are scanned to create digital images of the tissue, which can be analyzed on a computer screen. Analyses of the pathology department show that digitization of the workflow from referral, finished preparation and scanning of samples to the pathologist´s workstation may result in a better overview of the workload, less administration and shorter turnaround times. Digital pathology also entails unique opportunities for collaborations between hospitals both regionally and worldwide as the digital samples can be sent instantly.
The pathologist workstation re-invented
This possibility is an advantage that is expected to have enormous impact. The CMIV research agenda in digital pathology tackles image analysis challenges such as correlating findings between radiology and histology in liver biopsies and carotid artery plaques, as well as breast cancer histological grading and lung cancer cytology screening. Focus is on strengthening the research and finding new digital solutions that will work in the clinical setting.
World pioneers in digitization of histology samples
Linköping and Kalmar are world pioneers in digitization of the histology samples. During 2012-2017 CMIV and Sectra AB lead a VINNOVA (the Swedish Innovation Agency) project called “Optimized flows and IT tools for digital pathology”. The project aimed to design an optimal workflow for digitized pathology, to develop IT tools such as the pathologist’s workstation, and to bring the resulting innovations out into the clinical reality. Apart from CMIV and Sectra AB the project consortium consisted of eleven regional care providers, the Interactive Institute Swedish ICT, and LRI Imaging AB. The project has contributed to revolutionize Swedish pathology and inspired to national collaborations.