NHS laboratories across Manchester, England are employing technology to enable greater efficiency and timeliness of patient diagnosis.

Stockport NHS Foundation Trust has become the first hospital in the region to go live with the imaging technology developed by Swedish company Sectra.

The lack of digitalisation in current pathology techniques makes it difficult for diagnoses to be made quickly. Glass slides of patient tissues need to be packaged and transported to different locations where specialists can view them. It is expected that delays will be removed with the new technology as digital slides can be viewed instantly across virtual hospital networks.  

“Cellular pathology is a very physical process that has traditionally required pathologists to be in an office with a microscope. Digital pathology allows us to work from almost any location and will help us achieve our goals for collaborative working across Greater Manchester’s pathology network,” said Dr Shailesh Agrawal, clinical lead for Greater Manchester’s digital pathology programme, and clinical director at Stockport NHS Foundation Trust.

Stockport’s rollout will be followed by other laboratories in the area, in addition to extensive clinical testing. The implementation of pathology imaging is expected to integrate with the same radiological imaging system – including x-rays, CT scans, ultrasound, and MRI scans – which is already being used in eight trusts in Manchester. It is hoped that by aligning digital imaging methods, pathologists will be provided with a more complete picture of patient cases.

“It means we can use capacity across our region to best effect, more easily share sub-specialty expertise across organisations, and potentially tap into growing national digital pathology initiatives. Clinically it is a huge help,” Agrawal added.

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By GlobalData

According to GlobalData, the market value of the global diagnostic imaging market in 2020 was worth $28bn.  Digital upscaling of imaging techniques will be a key driver in the market in years to come.