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Three Scottish hospitals to trial national digital pathology service

NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde and NHS Lothian are launching a proof-of-concept pilot of a Scottish digital pathology programme

Three hospitals across two Scottish health boards are piloting a digital pathology service, with the aim of launching it nationally.

The Queen Elizabeth University Hospital in Glasgow and the Royal Infirmary and Western General Hospitals in Edinburgh will be using a proof-of-concept digital pathology system from Philips for up to 12 months.

The hospitals, from NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde and NHS Lothian health boards, will test the Philips IntelliSite Digital Pathology Solution, with plans for it to be part of a national digital pathology service and rolled out to all Scottish NHS providers.

Gareth Bryson, head of service for pathology at the Queen Elizabeth University Hospital, said pathology is “an area of rapid innovation and is an increasingly vital cornerstone of modern diagnostic practice”.

“Traditional histopathology exposed samples to numerous handlers, which is inefficient and increases the scope for human error,” said Bryson, who is also the clinical lead for the project.

“An integrated digital pathology workflow reduces these risks, while also providing the pathologist with the necessary image and clinical information to generate the most accurate and complete clinical diagnosis.”

The aim of a national pathology programme is to increase diagnostic speeds and accuracy across the country.

Head of IT, diagnostics at NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde, Kenny Birney, said there is a lot of innovation going on inside the area of pathology.

Read more about the NHS in Scotland

“Computational pathology offers new insights through data analysis, meaning pathologists can consult on treatment options such as in immuno-oncology,” he said.

“Our aim is to bring these exciting innovations to Scotland with an integrated digital pathology solution, ensuring equity of access for all patients, irrespective of geographical location.”

Scotland has already had a national picture, archiving and communications systems (PACS) programme for several years. As part of its Digital Health and Care Scotland strategy, which aims to “reshape Scotland’s health and social care, providing better services and a better working environment for professionals”, the Scottish government is actively encouraging the joining up of digital systems across the country.

Earlier this year, the Scottish NHS went live with a data sharing system, allowing GPs to share anonymised patient information with researchers to “better understand the health and social care needs of the population”.

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