It also made doing pathology possible during surgery.
Sullivan Nicolaides Pathology, one of Australia’s largest diagnostic laboratories, is now using a new digital pathology system that generates faster and more accurate reports.
The digital pathology scanner is borne out of a decade-long research by SNP and the University of Queensland. The project seeks to automate a microscope scanning and analysis system to improve the accuracy and speed of diagnostic testing.
The technology has been tested and accredited by the National Association of Testing Authorities.
WHY IT MATTERS
By using the digital pathology scanner, SNP can now process thousands of tests a day. According to SNP CEO Dr Michael Harrison, their scientists are using digitised images “instead of being tied to a microscope for many hours.”
Previously, it was a challenge to obtain sharp, in-focus images without human intervention. “Digital pathology images are often thousands of times larger than typical digital photos,” said UQ Professor of AI Brian Lovell. “This meant microscopy for diagnosing from tissue, blood and other specimen types was unable to be automated until now.”
By combing image analysis and AI, the digital pathology scanner “greatly increases image quality and reduces file size.”
“At times, the system can increase the productivity of pathologists and scientists by factors of 10 or more,” Prof Lovell pointed out.
The scanner has also enabled faster turnaround times. In some situations, Prof. Lovell mentioned, it was “possible to do pathology during an operation.”
Contributing to improving accuracy, the scanner also enables pathologists to obtain second opinions via telepathology.
Another benefit of using the technology is improved record keeping. The scanner is able to archive all disease records forever, allowing pathologists and scientists to access any slide anytime.
Prof Lovell shared that they are looking to put images on pathology slips so patients can actually see the images themselves instead of just reading text reports.
THE LARGER TREND
There have been exceptional applications of digital pathology across Asia-Pacific. One of them is the 5G-enabled digital pathology system at Samsung Medical Center in South Korea, which was recently described by HIMSS as the “most comprehensive” in the world during the assessment for the global first Stage 7 HIMSS Digital Imaging Adoption Model. The system is able to cut down the turnaround time for frozen test consultations by half to 10 minutes, among other outcomes.