Sheffield and Hull NHS Hospitals create innovative digital pathology network

The East and South Yorkshire Digital Pathology Network (EASY Path) simplifies collaboration between the histopathology departments of two independent NHS trusts

Dr Branko Perunovic (left) and Dr Jonathan Bury from Sheffield Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust with the new EASY Path system

A pioneering digital histopathology partnership between Sheffield Teaching Hospitals, Hull and East Yorkshire Hospitals and Philips has been launched, offering a groundbreaking solution to the growing demand for specialist histopathology services at a time when fewer pathologists are entering the profession.

The East and South Yorkshire Digital Pathology Network (EASY Path) brings together the clinical expertise of Sheffield Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust and Hull and East Yorkshire Hospital NHS Trust with technology giant Philips to create a virtual distributed network of specialist pathologists at both Trusts, enabling work to be balanced between the two sites. This ensures rapid analysis of vital histology samples. The partnership is supported by the Philips IntelliSite Pathology Solution open platform for digital pathology.

At least 70% of diagnoses are dependent on pathology, including cancer, but the growing demand for pathology tests has not been matched by the number of highly trained specialists entering the field. The EASY Path network is the first of its kind in the UK, and simplifies collaboration between two histopathology departments of two independent NHS trusts, enabling workload to be shared across both organisations while avoiding the need for the physical transfer of glass slides and the expense of employing locum doctors or external reporting agencies.

'The EASY Path enables a sustainable and transformative collaboration between NHS organisations and offers a flexible alternative to the expensive physical co-location of laboratories, for the benefit of millions of patients in East and South Yorkshire,' said Dr Jonathan Bury, Clinical Lead of Histopathology at Sheffield Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust.

Dr Branko Perunovic, Clinical Director of Laboratory Medicine at Sheffield Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, added: 'Our system can also be available to other Trusts across the NHS because it uses digital technology and so it does not need Trusts to be located close to each other. Results can be processed very quickly because we do not need to wait for traditional glass slides to be transported to the appropriate specialist either. They are simply sent over a secure digital network in seconds.

The Philips IntelliSite Pathology Solution is an open platform that integrates ultra-fast slide scanners, an image management system and web-based pathology case viewer, enables images scanned at one laboratory to be instantly examined and diagnosed by pathologists at another laboratory.

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