SNP is on track to become Australia’s first fully digitized pathology laboratory. According to Dr. Mark Wyche, histopathologist at SNP in Toowoomba, the benefits are numerous.
“Digital pathology has enhanced our practice. I can now send specimens for immunochemistry with the evening courier to our Brisbane laboratory where they will be prepared, scanned and ready for me to review on screen the following morning. The technology has also facilitated collaboration. Digitized slides are convenient for the rapid sharing of diagnostic material with other histopathologists from remote locations.”
“Collaboration with clinical colleagues has benefited as well,” Dr. Wyche continues. “In multi-disciplinary team meetings, scanned slides are a convenient method of demonstrating pathology to clinical colleagues. Surgeons and oncologists are able to review diagnostic images and more readily appreciate factors which are clinically relevant.”
SNP has now been using digital pathology for several years. “This allows for rapid review of archived tissue scans,” Dr. Wyche says, “which is useful for clinical meetings and routine practice in order to assess disease progress or determine response to treatment”.
SNP is also developing archives of scanned images for teaching purposes. Physically sharing slides for training among histopathologists can be cumbersome. Digitization has sped up this process, enabling ongoing education to maintain competency and accreditation of SNP’s histopathologists for excellent service delivery.
As a future direction, digital pathology opens the door to computational pathology – the combination of multiple sources of patient data and mathematical models to generate diagnostic inferences. Potential uses for SNP include the automated review and division of work into clinically high and low risk cases, pre-identification of tumor tissue, as well as identification of information undetectable to the human eye.