Path Links, a pathology service for Lincolnshire, is to upgrade to digital pathology in a bid to enhance cancer diagnostics.

The switch to digital pathology could do for histopathology what PACS has done for radiology, said Path Links general manager Mick Chomyn.

The solution will see pathologists ditching glass slides and microscopes in favour of digital images that can be viewed on an HD screen.

Chomyn told Digital Health News: “PACS delivered massive improvements and benefits to radiology – and we would expect the same in digital pathology. We see investment in digital pathology as a future proofing strategy.”

Path Links is a single, managed clinical pathology service that was formed in 2001 by the merger of NHS pathology services previously based in Boston, Grantham, Grimsby, Lincoln, and Scunthorpe.

It provides a wide range of serivces to two actue trusts and 186 GP practices, serving a population of around 1 million people. It processes around 4.5 million specimens and performs 20 million tests a year.

The service took receipt of new slide scanners this month and the laboratory is now implementing the Omnyx Precision Solution provided by Omnyx, a joint venture between GE Healthcare and University of Pittsburgh Medical Center.

Chomyn said: “The case for digital pathology is compelling. By adopting the latest digital pathology solution we will provide clinicians with access to innovative diagnostic tools, with goals of achieving greater clinical accuracy, reducing diagnostic time in cancer care and creating real benefits to patient care.”

The Omnyx system allows clinicians to securely view, diagnose, store, retrieve, and share images digitally, accessing them on any computer connected to the secure network.

Workflow software allows pathologists to obtain second opinions, permitting Path Links to involve a wider pathology community in its services.

Chomyn said Path Links chose the Omnyx solution because it offers compact storage of pathology images, compressing them to 200MB, and software that allows images to be streamed by remote users.

The streaming technology has been likened to Google Earth and allows a user to download just the part of the image that is needed at a given time.

He said: “The Omnyx solution and GE Healthcare were the right choice for us. The compact storage of pathology images, a highly developed streaming system and affordable cost of ownership were all important factors.

"So was their support to facilitating further integration and enhancement of established Lean working processes at Path Links.” However, he added that it is early days, and: “We are in the foothills of this."

Read Digital Health News' latest special report, which looks at the business case for digital pathology.