Health Care Global Enterprise Ltd. (HCG), the cancer care specialist, said it has become the first hospital in the country to completely digitise histopathology workflow for primary diagnosis at the HCG-Strand Laboratory in Bengaluru. The hospital had introduced a US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved digital pathology solution from Philips Intellisite Pathology Solutions. Now the laboratory at HCG has successfully transformed to a 100 per cent digital lab for histopathology — the diagnosis and study of diseases of the tissues and computational pathology — an approach to diagnosis that incorporates multiple sources of data.
Digital diagnosis is now the default diagnosis of the lab for surgical pathology and 100 per cent of formalin-fixed paraffin-embedded (FFPE) slides are digitally scanned into high-resolution digital images. These are then viewed, analysed, annotated and shared with other pathologists in the network in real-time. Majority of the pathologists in the laboratory are now working digitally.
“HCG has moved further in revolutionising cancer treatment, making it possible to focus on improved outcomes for patients. These digital images are powerful tools for pathologists, helping them to analyse samples and prepare histopathology reports more accurately and efficiently,” said Dr. B S Ajaikumar, chairman and CEO, HCG. “This technology marks a step forward in cancer treatment through precision, speed, efficiency and ease of use with immense potential to provide significant clinical benefits to both the physicians and patients.”
The 100 per cent digital histopathology labs help patients by providing more accurate results and ease of access to expert opinions. It significantly improves the turnaround time for reports as well as saving cost in terms of glass logistics of slides and blocks. Digitization also means there is no risk of losing or damaging specimens in the transit.
“With the increasing incidence of cancer cases, pathologists have to manage the increasing workload more efficiently and this is possible through streamlining the workflow, sharpening diagnostic skills and facilitating partnership,” said Dr. Veena R, consultant pathologist, head of the histopathology, Strand Life Sciences, Bengaluru. “Digital pathology helps in improving the efficiency of pathologists and quality of cancer diagnosis by enhancing collaboration across care teams and improving time to diagnosis.”
For instance, a pathologist takes almost one hour to report a case of radical prostatectomy, an operation to remove the prostate gland and tissues surrounding it, while on digital slides it can be reported in 30 minutes and more accurately. Veena also said smart image recognition algorithms, in future, will help the pathologists to focus on the things that matter most.
The cases of common cancer, including cervical, oral and breast cancer, diagnosed at government-run NCD clinics increased by nearly 324 per cent between 2017 and 2018, according to the National Health Profile, 2019 data. In 2018, out of 6.5 crore people who visited these clinics for screening, 1.6 lakh people were diagnosed with one of these common cancers, compared to 39,635 cases detected in 2017.