Two NHS trusts in the East of England have signed an agreement with Sectra to digitise and transform their pathology services.

East Suffolk and North Essex NHS Foundation Trust and West Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust are moving away from microscopes and glass slides, allowing their pathologists to better collaborate and analyse high resolution images that can be accessed from almost anywhere.

Sectra’s digital pathology solution will support healthcare professionals in delivering timely diagnoses for patients, as rather than having to wait for glass slides to be transported from one site to another, pathology specialists will be able to easily and quickly access digital images of patient tissues to carry out their reports.

Multi-disciplinary teams will also be able to view images without delay and the trusts will have the ability to pool their pathology resources more effectively to make best use of capacity, whilst improving working flexibility for professionals through home working.

Dr Yinka Fashedemi, clinical lead for cellular pathology at East Suffolk and North Essex NHS Foundation Trust, said: “This new technology will allow our staff to analyse and share samples remotely, in turn enabling us to further improve the service we provide by making sure our patients receive their test results as quickly as possible.

“It will also make it easier to work in collaboration with colleagues based at specialist hospitals to gain second opinions so that patients can begin any treatment they may need promptly.

“We are pleased to be one of the first trusts in the country to introduce this digital pathology system which will further support our staff to deliver the best possible service.”

The digital programme is expected to support specialist pathways, such as cancer pathways. It will support around 1.5million examinations per year and will also pave the way for introducing emerging technologies such as artificial intelligence, into the diagnostic process.

The trusts will be the first in the UK to deploy a digital pathology solution using Microsoft Azure cloud infrastructure, with a fully managed service provided by Sectra minimising IT and infrastructure burdens for the trusts.

Jane Rendall, managing director at Sectra in the UK and Ireland, said: “NHS diagnostic services are undergoing the biggest transformation seen in decades, if not centuries, as disciplines like pathology digitise.

“East Suffolk and North Essex NHS Foundation Trust and West Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust are at the forefront of that journey and are particularly innovative in their use of cloud computing to ensure their programme remains scalable and sustainable,” she added.

“We are extremely proud to have the opportunity to support this transformation that will deliver significant benefits to healthcare professionals and patients.”

The contract between the trusts and Sectra comprises the digital pathology module of the enterprise imaging subscription services Sectra One Cloud. The solution will be delivered as a fully managed service where Sectra takes responsibility for all hardware, software and other IT companies.

Sectra also recently signed a contract with Homerton Healthcare to deploy its enterprise imaging solution and penned a deal with Northern Ireland earlier in 2022 which will see pathology and radiology images and reports being combined in a single medical imaging system.