Digital approach helps cut pathology waiting times

Published 27 June 2022

An innovative partnership between East Kent Hospitals and digital pathology company Source LDPath, a part of SourceBio International plc, is helping to reduce pathology waiting times and improve patient care.

The Trust has teamed up with Source LDPath to send digital images of slides to their network of pathologists so they can be checked for a range of diseases, including cancer.

The results are securely sent back to the Trust in an average of two days, which is well under waiting times of two weeks or more experienced by most patients across the UK. More than 4,000 cases have been examined digitally since the partnership launched in December 2021.

There is a nationwide shortage of pathologists and the team behind the project believe it is one way to limit impact on patient care.

Marcus Coales, general manager for pathology for the Trust, said: “Demand for histopathology is increasing every year and limited numbers of pathologists can mean delays in diagnosis for our patients.

“This innovative approach helps to minimise delays, which means patients can start treatment earlier and have better outcomes in many cases.

“We think it could be a good example of what can be achieved with a digital approach to pathology.”

Previously, if the Trust wanted to use the services of external pathologists, the slides would have to be physically sent to them for review.

But thanks to the partnership, a state-of-the-art digital slide scanner was installed at the Trust, converting traditional glass slides to high-resolution digital slides that can be instantly shared electronically.

It makes it easier for clinicians to seek second opinions on more complex cases and reduce delays.

Marc Thomas, director of integration at Source LDPath, said: “This is the first integration of its kind in the UK, bringing renowned histopathology expertise and rapid diagnoses to patients whilst considerably alleviating operational pressures.

“We are delighted to have the opportunity to help the NHS and patients in East Kent receive the answers they need far more quickly than they would under the old, legacy system.”