International medical imaging IT and cybersecurity company Sectra has signed a five-year contract with North Tees and Hartlepool NHS Foundation Trust for the delivery of a regional digital pathology system to the Northern Cancer Alliance.
The system will span the 10 separate Trusts of the consortium and aims to improve cancer care workflows through enabling pathologists to instantly access and share images and information between departments and locations.
“Digital pathology will be an enabler for collaborative working across large geographic areas, streamlining pathology diagnostic decision making, particularly for cancer diagnosis and multidisciplinary team meeting discussions," said Dr Paul Barrett, histopathologist at County Durham and Darlington NHS Foundation Trust and co-clinical lead of the project. "This represents the biggest and most exciting change to the way Cellular Pathologist work in a generation.”
Dr Sonali Natu, histopathologist at North Tees and Hartlepool NHS Foundation Trust and the other co-clinical lead of the project, added: “As an integrated health and care system, we need to move away from isolation and head towards integration. This platform will deliver a large part of that ambition for the patients we serve. The digital access to pathology images and digital tools for reviewing them will in the end translate into easier collaboration, more resilient services and improved patient care.”
The system will support 115 pathologists across the Trusts, conducting an average of 300,000 examinations a year. Through Sectra’s central system, they will be able to access all pathology images produced by the consortium and get one consolidated view of a patient record from a single interface.
Without the need for physical glass slides, digital access to current and historical images is enabled from anywhere and at any time. The digital system provides pathologists with assistance at critical decision points, such as grading or doing more precise measurements. It also enables image analysis, which in turn reduces variation and improves the precision of tasks such as cell counting. The digital access further facilitates second opinions, external reading resources, specialist consultations and regional MDT case review meetings.
The Trusts within the regional system will be using PACS based reporting and integrate with multiple local Laboratory Information Management Systems (LIMS). This could, for example, facilitate workload balancing across the consortium and equal access to specialists for all patients in the region. The contract extension was signed during the fourth quarter of the fiscal year.