NHS trusts in East Suffolk and North Essex hope to improve cloud computing for better patient and healthcare services, following a collaboration with medical imaging technology provider Sectra.
This digital transformation will allow the hospitals and trusts to better collaborate, moving them away from microscopes and glass slides, to analysing high-resolution digital images that can be accessed from anywhere.
Sectra’s digital pathology solution will further support healthcare professionals in delivering timely diagnoses for patients.
Multi-disciplinary teams will be able to view images without delay, and the trusts will be able to gather pathology resources more effectively, all while improving working flexibility for staff through home working – which is better for many people for work-life balance.
The digital pathology services are also expected to support specialist pathways, such as cancer pathways. It will support around 1.5 million examinations per year, and will also pave the way for introducing emerging technologies such as artificial intelligence, into the diagnostic process.
West Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust pathology project manager Sarah Rollo said: “The recent pandemic has highlighted the importance of being able to access slides remotely and the ability to provide flexibility and resilience in our service. Our consultants will have the ability to report routine and urgent work from home, shortly after it has been issued out of the laboratory. Consultants will be able to work collaboratively on cases from remote locations with simultaneous access to view and annotate patient slides. As a district general hospital, a proportion of our patients are referred to specialist hospitals.
“Improved data sharing with these specialist centres will improve the turnaround time in the patient’s pathway. Digital pathology has also facilitated the introduction of digital processes within the laboratory, reducing the need for manual transcription and improving patient safety.”
These trusts are to be the first in the UK to deploy a digital pathology solution using Microsoft Azure cloud computing, with a fully managed service provided by Sectra minimizing IT and infrastructure burdens for the trusts.
This allows the trusts to better use archive storage facilities available in the cloud, helping to manage high volumes of data associated with digital pathology at a sustainable cost.
East Suffolk and North Essex NHS Foundation Trust clinical lead for cellular pathology Dr Yinka Fashedemi, 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 contract comprises the digital pathology module of the enterprise imaging subscription service Sectra One Cloud, where Sectra will be responsible for all hardware, software, and other IT components in the trusts.