News, Analysis, Trends, Management Innovations for
Clinical Laboratories and Pathology Groups

Hosted by Robert Michel

News, Analysis, Trends, Management Innovations for
Clinical Laboratories and Pathology Groups

Hosted by Robert Michel
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UK’s National Health Service Tests AI Tool That Can Spot Cancer in Mammograms Missed by Doctors

This AI platform has the potential to also reduce workload of radiologists, but also of anatomic pathologists and oncologists allowing them to be more productive

When the UK’s National Health Service (NHS) recently tested an artificial intelligence (AI) platform’s ability to analyze mammograms, the AI found early signs of breast cancer that “human doctors” had previously missed, the BBC reported. This level of ability by AI might soon be adapted to aid overworked anatomic pathologists and cancer doctors in the United Kingdom.

The pilot program, which was conducted at NHS Grampian Aberdeen in Scotland, tested the Mammography Intelligent Assessment (MIA) AI platform for breast screening developed by Kheiron Medical Technologies and Imperial College London

Out of 10,000 mammograms MIA analyzed, the AI platform found “tiny signs of breast cancer in 11 women” which had not been spotted during earlier examinations, the BBC noted, adding that the cancers “were practically invisible to the human eye.”

This is a significant development in AI’s role in healthcare. Anatomic pathologists and clinical laboratory leaders will note that ongoing advancements in AI are enabling technology developers to apply their solutions to assessing radiology images, as well as in whole slide imaging used in digital pathology. In the UK, use of AI, the BBC noted, may also help ease doctor’s workloads.

“This is just the beginning of our work with Kheiron,” said Ben Glocker, PhD (above), Professor in Machine Learning for Imaging at Imperial College London and Head of ML Research at Kheiron Medical, in a news release. “We are actively working on new methodologies for the safe deployment and continuous monitoring of MIA to support a US and UK rollout. We are working hard to make sure that as many women as possible will benefit from the use of this new technology within the next year.” AI tools such as MIA may soon take much of the load from anatomic pathologists and radiologists. (Photo copyright: Imperial College London.)

MIA Cloud-based AI Platform

Kheiron was founded in 2016 and MIA was named one of the seven biggest medical breakthroughs in 2023 by ABC News. A study conducted by Imperial College London in 2023 found that MIA “could significantly increase the early detection of breast cancers in a European healthcare setting by up to 13%,” according to an Imperial news release.

“The study was conducted over three phases (two pilot phases and a live roll-out). Overall across the three phases, the AI reader found 24 more cancers than the standard human reading—a 7% relative increase—and resulted in 70 more women recalled (0.28% relative increase),” the news release reported. “Of the additional recalls, six (initial pilot), 13 (extended pilot), and 11 (live use) additional cancers were found, increasing relative cancer detection rate by 13%, 10%, and 5% respectively. [The researchers] found that 83% of the additional cancers detected using MIA in real clinical practice were invasive, showing that MIA can detect cancers where early detection is particularly vital.”

Supported by Microsoft’s Azure Cloud, MIA came together over six years based on training encompassing millions of mammograms worldwide, Healthcare Digital reported.

“AI tools are generally pretty good at spotting symptoms of a specific disease if they are trained on enough data to enable them to be identified. This means feeding the program with as many different anonymized images of those symptoms as possible, from as diverse a range of people as possible,” Sarah Kerruish, Chief Strategy Officer, Kheiron, told Healthcare Digital.

MIA has been trained to “recognize subtle patterns and anomalies” that can point to “cancerous cells even in their earliest stages of development,” Dataconomy reported.

MIA Finds Early Cancer Signs

In the pilot study, MIA examined mammograms from 10,889 women. Each image had previously been reviewed by two radiologists, the BBC reported.

Findings include the following according to Healthcare Digital:

  • MIA “flagged” all people the physicians previously identified with symptoms.
  • The AI platform discovered 11 people with cancer the doctors did not identify.
  • The cancer MIA discovered—and the doctors did not—suggested cancer in early stages.

So, how did the doctors miss the cancer that MIA spotted? Gerald Lip, MD, Clinical Director for Breast Screening in North East Scotland who led the pilot study for the NHS, told Healthcare Digital, “part of the power of AI is it’s not prone to exhaustion or distraction.

“There is an element of fatigue,” he said. “You get disruptions, someone’s coming in, someone’s chatting in the background. There are lots of things that can probably throw you off your regular routine as well. And in those days when you have been distracted, you go, ‘how on earth did I miss that?’ It does happen.”

Lip is also the Chief Investigator in the Mammography Artificial Intelligence Project in the Industrial Center for Artificial Intelligence and Digital Diagnostics in Scotland.  

“I see MIA as a friend and an augmentation to my practice,” he told Healthcare Digital. “MIA isn’t perfect. It had no access to patient history so [it] would flag cysts that had already been identified by previous scans and designated harmless.”

AI as a Safety Net

In the 2023 study, researchers from Imperial College London deployed MIA as an extra reader for mammograms of 25,065 women who visited screening sites in Hungary between April 2021 and January 2023, according to a news release.

“Our prospective real-world usage data in Hungary provides evidence for a significant, measurable increase of early breast cancer detection when MIA is used in clinical practice,” said Peter Kecskemethy, PhD, CEO and co-founder of Kheiron Medical, in the news release.

“Our study shows that AI can act as an effective safety net—a tool to prevent subtler signs of cancer from falling through the cracks,” said Ben Glocker, PhD, Professor in Machine Learning for Imaging at Imperial College London and Head of ML Research at Kheiron Medical, in the news release.

More studies are needed before MIA can be used in clinical settings. Nevertheless, use of AI in radiology—specifically mammograms—where the AI tool can identify very small cancers typically undetectable by radiologists, would be a boon to cancer doctors and the patients they treat.

So far, the research suggests that the AI-powered MIA has benefits to deployment in breast cancer screening. Eventually, it may also make impressive contributions to medical diagnosis and patient care, particularly if MIA eventually proves to be effective at analyzing the whole slide images used by anatomic pathologists. 

—Donna Marie Pocius

Related Information:

NHS AI Test Spots Tiny Cancers Missed by Doctors

Seven Biggest Medical Breakthroughs of 2023

AI Tool Picks up Early-Stage Breast Cancers Doctors Missed

AI Tool MIA Accurately Detects Subtle Breast Cancers

Meet MIA/Introducing Kheiron Medical Technologies

New AI Tool Detects up to 13% More Breast Cancers than Human Clinicians Can

Prospective Implementation of AI-assisted Screen Reading to Improve Early Detection of Breast Cancer

University of Pittsburgh Pathologists Create World Tumor Registry to Assist Medical Professionals in the Identification and Diagnosis of Cancers

As the cancer registry expands it will increasing become more useful to anatomic pathologists, histopathologists, oncologists, and even clinical laboratories

Oncologists, histopathologists, anatomic pathologists, and other cancer physicians now have a powerful new Wikipedia-style tumor registry to help them with their diagnoses and in educating patients on their specific types of cancer. Clinical laboratory managers may find it useful to understand the value this searchable database, and it can help their staff pathologists as well.

Free to use by both physicians and patients the World Tumor Registry (WTR) is designed “to minimize diagnostic errors by giving doctors a searchable online database of cancers that have been collected and categorized with cellular images collected from around the world,” Pittsburg-Post Gazette reported.

Prompt, accurate cancer diagnoses offer cancer patients the best chance for optimal treatment outcomes. However, many medical professionals around the globe do not have the training and resources to offer superior cancer diagnoses. That deficiency can translate to inferior treatment options and lower survival rates among cancer patients. 

To help improve cancer diagnoses, pathologist Yuri E. Nikiforov, MD, PhD, Division Director, Molecular and Genomic Pathology, Vice Chair of the Department of Pathology,  and Professor of Pathology, University of Pittsburgh, developed the WTR to provide educational and practical resources for individuals and organizations involved in cancer research.

Officially announced at the United States and Canadian Academy of Pathology (USCAP) annual convention, the WTR is an open-access catalog of digital microscopic images of human cancer types and subtypes.

The lower cost of technology and improved speed of access via the internet are technologies enabling this effort.

“We are creating sort of a Wikipedia for cancer images,” said Alyaksandr V. Nikitski, MD, PhD (above), Research Assistant Professor of Pathology, Division of Molecular and Genomic Pathology at Pittsburg School of Medicine and Administrative Director of the WTR, in an exclusive interview with Dark Daily. “Anyone in the world, if they can access the internet, can look at the well-annotated, diagnostic digital slides of cancer,” said Nikitski. Clinical laboratories may also find this new pathology tool useful. (Photo copyright: Alyaksandr V. Nikitski)

Minimizing Diagnostic Errors

Based in Pittsburgh, the WTR is freely available to anyone for viewing digital pathology slides of known cancer tumors as well as borderline and questionable cases. On the website, individuals can search for pictures of tumors in the registry by diagnosis, specific cohorts, and by microscopic features. Individuals may search further by tumor type and subtype to receive a picture of related tumors. 

According to the WTR website, the mission of the nonprofit “is to minimize diagnostic errors, eliminate inequality in cancer recognition, diagnosis, and treatment in diverse populations, and improve outcomes by increasing access to the diagnostic pathology expertise and knowledge of microscopic characteristics of cancers that occur in different geographic, environmental, and socio-economic settings.”

This new comprehensive initiative will eventually encompass cancer images from all over the world. 

“Let’s assume that I am a pathologist or a trainee who has little experience, or I don’t have access to collections of atypical tumors,” Nikitski explained. “I can view tumor collections online [in the WTR database] and check how typical and rare tumors look in various geographic regions and environmental settings.”

Once an image of a slide is selected, users will then receive a brief case history of the tumor in addition to such data as the age of the patient, their geographic location, sex, family history of the disease, and the size and stage of the tumor.

Increasing Probability of Correct Diagnosis

Pathologists and clinicians may also predict the probability of a particular diagnosis by searching under the microscopic feature of the database. This feature utilizes an innovative classifier known as PathDxFinder, where users may compare a slide from their lab to slides in the database by certain criteria. This includes:

After completing the questions above, the user presses the “predict diagnosis” button to receive the probability of cancer and most likely diagnosis based on the answers provided in the questionnaire.

WTR Editorial Boards

The WTR represents collections for each type of cancer site, such as lung or breast. A chairperson and editorial board are responsible for reviewing submitted slides before they are placed online. The editorial boards include 20 pathologists who are experts in diagnosing cancer categories, Nikitski explained.

Thousands of identified microscopic whole slide images (WSI) representing various types of cancer are deposited by the editors and other contributors to the project. The editorial board then carefully analyzes and compiles the data before posting the images for public viewing. 

The editorial boards are located in five world regions:

  • Africa and the Middle East
  • Asia and Oceania
  • Central and South America
  • North America and Europe
  • Northern Asia

Any physicians or pathologists can contribute images to the database, by “simply selecting the editor of their region on the website, writing their name, and asking if they can submit tumor cases,” Nikitski stated.

“We have established a platform that allows pathologists to contact editors who are in the same geographic region,” he added.

Helping Physicians Identify Cancer Types 

In a YouTube video, Nikiforov states that the WTR is an “educational nonprofit organization rooted in [the] beliefs that every cancer patient deserves accurate and timely diagnosis as the first and essential step in better treatment and outcomes.”

“We believe this can be achieved only when modern diagnostic tools and technologies are freely available to every physician and pathologist. Only when we understand how microscopic features of cancer vary in different geographic, environmental and ethnic populations, and only by integrating histopathology with clinical immunohistochemical and molecular genetic information for every cancer type,” he stated.

Since patient privacy is important, the database contains only basic data about patients, and all patient information is protected.

Launched in March, there are currently more than 400 thyroid tumor slides available to view in the online database. At the time of the announcement, the WTR platform was planned to be implemented in three phases:

  • Thyroid cancer (released in March of this year).
  • Lung cancer and breast cancer (anticipated to be completed by the third quarter of 2026).
  • Remaining cancers, including brain, soft tissue and bone, colorectal, head and neck, hematolymphoid, female genital, liver, pancreatic, prostate and male genital, skin, urinary system, pediatric, other endocrine cancers, and rare cancers (anticipated to be completed by the end of 2029).

“We believe that this resource will help physicians and pathologists practicing in small or big or remote medical centers to learn how cancer looks under a microscope in their own communities,” Nikiforov said in the video. “We also see WTR as a platform that connects physicians and scientists from different parts of the world who can work together to better understand and treat cancer.”

Catalogs like the World Tumor Registry might potentially create a pool of information that that could be mined by analytical and artificial intelligence (AI) platforms to ferret out new ways to improve the diagnosis of certain types of cancer and even enable earlier diagnoses. 

“It is an extremely useful resource,” Nikitski said.

Anatomic pathologists will certainly find it so. And clinical laboratory managers may find the information useful as well when interacting with histopathologists and oncologists. 

—JP Schlingman

Related Information:

“Free for the World:” Pittsburgh Pathologist Prepares to Launch a Wikipedia for Cancer

USCAP 113th Annual Meeting

World Tumor Registry

Video: Message from the Founder and President of the World Tumor Registry

Laboratory Leaders at 2024 Annual Executive War College Discuss Critical Challenges Facing Clinical Laboratory and Pathology Managers for 2024 and Beyond

Trifecta of forces at work that will affect the clinical laboratory and pathology industries have been described as a ‘perfect storm’ requiring lab and practice managers to be well informed

Digital pathology, artificial intelligence (AI) in healthcare, and the perfect storm of changing federal regulations, took centerstage at the 29th Executive War College on Diagnostics, Clinical Laboratory, and Pathology Management in New Orleans this week, where more than 1,000 clinical laboratory and pathology leaders convened over three days.

This was the largest number of people ever onsite for what has become the world’s largest event focused exclusively on lab management topics and solutions. Perhaps the highlight of the week was the federal Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA’s) announcement of its final rule on Laboratory Developed Tests (LDTs). Overall, the conference featured more than 120 speakers, many of them national thought leaders on the topic of clinical lab and pathology management. More than 65% of the audience onsite were executive level lab managers.

 “The level of interest in the annual Executive War College is testimony to the ongoing need for dynamic, engaging, and highly relevant conference events,” said Robert Michel (above), Editor-in-Chief of Dark Daily and its sister publication The Dark Report, and founder of the Executive War College. “These in-person gatherings present great opportunities for clinical laboratory and pathology managers and leaders to network and speak with people they otherwise might not meet.” (Photo copyright: Dark Intelligence Group.)

Demonstrating Clinical Value

For those who missed the action onsite, the following is a synopsis of the highlights this week.

Lâle White, Executive Chair and CEO of XiFin, spoke about the future of clinical laboratory testing and the factors reshaping the industry. There are multiple dynamics impacting healthcare economics and outcomes—namely rising costs, decreasing reimbursements, and the move to a more consumer-focused healthcare. But it is up to labs, she said, to ensure their services are not simply viewed as a commodity.

“Laboratory diagnostics have the potential to change the economics of healthcare by really gaining efficiencies,” she noted. “And it’s up to labs to demonstrate clinical value by helping physicians manage two key diagnostic decision points—what tests to order, and what to do with the results.”

But even as labs find ways to increase the value offered to clinicians, there are other disruptive factors in play. Consumer-oriented tech companies such as Google, Apple, and Amazon are democratizing access to patient data in unforeseen ways, and Medicare Advantage plans are changing the way claims are processed and paid.

Redefining Human Data

Reynolds Salerno, PhD, Director of the Division of Laboratory Services for the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) provided an update on the agency’s top priorities for 2024.

Clinical labs are fundamental components of the public health infrastructure. So, the CDC plans on focusing on delivering high-quality laboratory science, supported by reliable diagnostics and informatics for disease outbreaks and exposures, and engaging with public and private sector partners.

Salerno is an active member of the Clinical Laboratory Improvement Act Committee (CLIAC), which has been working on a number of initiatives, including revisions to the Clinical Laboratory Improvement Act (CLIA) that would change the definition of “materials derived from the human body” to include data derived from human specimens such as medical imaging, genetic sequences, etc.

New Molecular Testing Codes

The history of MolDX and Z-Codes were the topics discussed by Gabriel Bien-Willner, MD, PhD, Chief Medical Officer for healthcare claims and transaction processing company Palmetto GBA. Molecular testing is highly complex, and the lack of well-defined billing codes and standardization makes it difficult to know if a given test is reasonable and necessary.

Z-Codes were established to clarify what molecular testing was performed—and why—prompting payers to require both Z-Codes and Current Procedural Terminology (CPT) codes when processing molecular test claims. Medicare’s MolDX program further streamlines the claims process by utilizing expertise in the molecular diagnostics space to help payers develop coverage policies and reimbursement for these tests.

FDA Final Rule on LDT Regulation

Timothy Stenzel, MD, PhD, CEO of Grey Haven Consulting and former director of the FDA’s Office of In Vitro Diagnostics reviewed the latest updates from the FDA’s Final Rule on LDT (laboratory developed test) regulation. Prior to the FDA releasing its final rule, some experts suggested that the new regulations could result in up to 90% of labs discontinuing their LDT programs, impacting innovation, and patient care.

However, the final rule on LDTs is very different from the original proposed rule which created controversy. The final rule actually lowers the regulatory burden to the point that some labs may not have to submit their LDTs at all. The FDA is reviewing dozens of multi-cancer detection assays, some of which have launched clinically as LDTs. The agency is likely to approve those that accurately detect cancers for which there is no formal screening program.

Stenzel explained the FDA’s plan to down-classify most in vitro diagnostic tests, changing them from Class III to Class II, and exempting more than 1,000 assays from FDA review. He also discussed the highlights of the Quality Management System Regulation (QMSR). Launched in January, the QMSR bought FDA requirements in line with ISO 13485, making compliance easier for medical device manufacturers and test developers working internationally.

Looming Perfect Storm of Regulatory Changes

To close out Day 1, Michel took to the stage again with a warning to clinical laboratories about the looming “Perfect Storm” trifecta—the final FDA ruling on LDTs, Z-Code requirements for genetic testing, and updates to CLIA ’92 that could result in patient data being considered a specimen.

Laboratory leaders must think strategically if their labs are to survive the fallout, because the financial stress felt by labs in recent years will only be exacerbated by macroeconomic trends such as:

  • Staff shortages,
  • Rising costs,
  • Decreasing and delayed reimbursements, and
  • Tightening supply chains.

Lab administrators looking for ways to remain profitable and prosperous should look beyond the transactional Clinical Lab 1.0 fee-for-service model and adopt Clinical Lab 2.0, which embraces HEDIS (Healthcare Effectiveness Data and Information Set) scores and STAR ratings to offer more value to Medicare Advantage and other payers.

Wednesday’s General Session agenda was packed with information about the rise of artificial intelligence, big data, and precision medicine in healthcare. Taking centerstage on the program’s final day was Michael Simpson, President and CEO of Clinisys. Simpson gave a global perspective on healthcare data as the new driver of innovation in diagnostics and patient care.

Michel closed the conference on Wednesday by recapping many of these highlights, and then inviting his audience to the 30th annual Executive War College Diagnostics, Clinical Laboratory, and Pathology Management conference to be held on April 29-30, 2025, here at the Hyatt Regency New Orleans. Register now to attend this critical gathering.

—Leslie Williams

Related Information:

Executive War College: The Ultimate Event for Helping Solve Your Diagnostics, Clinical Lab and Pathology Management Challenges

Labs Should Prepare for Arrival of ‘Perfect Storm’

Executive War College 2025 Registration

From Regulations to Innovations: Annual Executive War College Convenes in New Orleans

29th Conference Features Information on What Clinical Lab Leaders Need to Know About a ‘Perfect Storm’ of New Compliance Challenges

There are signs that the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is poised to release the final rule on laboratory developed tests (LDTs)—perhaps even during the 29th annual Executive War College on Diagnostic, Clinical Laboratory, and Pathology Management, which kicks off in New Orleans this week.

The Office of Management and Budget (OMB) concluded its review of the final rule on April 22. Former FDA commissioner Scott Gottlieb, MD, and other regulatory experts expect the White House to send the final rule to Congress as early as late April and no later than May 22.

Either way, Tim Stenzel, MD, PhD, former director of the FDA’s Office of In Vitro Diagnostics, and other regulatory experts will be on hand at Executive War College (EWC) to walk attendees through what promises to be a “perfect storm of clinical lab and pathology practice regulatory changes.” Stenzel is scheduled to speak about the LDT rule during three sessions with fellow panelists on Day 1.

On Tuesday morning, Lâle White, executive chair and CEO of San Diego’s XiFin, Inc., will present a keynote on new regulations and diagnostics players that are “poised to reshape lab testing.” Her presentation is followed by a general session on Clinical Laboratory Improvement Amendments (CLIA) regulations featuring Salerno Reynolds, PhD., acting director at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Center for Laboratory Systems and Response.

Robert Michel, Editor-in-Chief of The Dark Report will wrap day one with a general session on the regulatory trifecta coming soon to all labs, from LDT to CLIA to private payers’ policies for genetic claims.


Innovation in the spotlight

“It’s a rich mix of expert speakers, lab leaders who are doing innovative things in their own organizations, along with the consultants and the lab vendors who are pushing the front edge of laboratory management, operations, and clinical service delivery,” says Michel, who each year creates the agenda for EWC.

Several sessions, master classes, and speakers will look to the future with discussions about how healthcare data drives innovations in diagnostics and patient care, digital pathology adoption around the world, and hot topics such as artificial intelligence (AI), big data and precision medicine.

Panels offer a variety of viewpoints

“One valuable benefit of participating at the Executive War College is the various panel discussions,” Michel says. “Each panel brings together national experts in a specific area of the laboratory profession. As an example, our lab legal panel this year brings together four prominent and experienced attorneys who share opinions, insights, and commentary about relevant issues in compliance, regulations, and contractual issues with health plans and others.”

This allows attendees to experience a breadth of opinions from multiple respected experts in this area, he adds.

For example, a digital pathology panel will bring together representatives from labs, service providers, and the consultants that are helping labs implement digital pathology. The session will be especially helpful to labs that are deciding when to acquire digital pathology tools and how to deploy them effectively to improve diagnostic accuracy, Michel says.

And a managed care panel will feature executives from some of the nation’s biggest health plans—the ones that sit on the other side of the table from labs—to provide insights and guidance on how labs can work more effectively with them.

Networking opportunities abound

The event is about much more than politics and policy, however. There’s also a distinct social aspect.

“This is a friendly tribe,” Vicki DiFrancesco, a US HealthTek advisory board member who first attended EWC more than two decades ago, wrote in a recent post.

“Everyone is welcome, and everyone appreciates the camaraderie, so don’t be shy about going up and introducing yourself to someone. The quality of the crowd is top-notch, yet I’ve always experienced a willingness for those of us who have been to this rodeo to always be welcoming,” she notes.

Michel agrees. “One of the special benefits of participation at the EWC is the superb networking interactions and collaboration that takes place,” he says.

 “From the first moments that attendees walk into our opening reception on Monday night until the close of the optional workshops on Thursday, one can see a rich exchange happening amongst circles of attendees. Introductions are being made. Connections are developing into business opportunities. The sum of an attendee’s experience at the Executive War College is to gain as much knowledge from the networking and collaboration as they do from the sessions.”

–Gienna Shaw

Samsung Medical Center Combines 5G with Digital Pathology to Speed Anatomic Pathologist’s Readings of Frozen Sections, Cuts Test TAT in Half

HIMSS names SMC a ‘world leader’ in digital pathology and awards the South Korean Healthcare provider Stage 7 DIAM status  

Anatomic pathologists and clinical laboratory managers in hospitals know that during surgery, time is of the essence. While the patient is still on the surgical table, biopsies must be sent to the lab to be frozen and sectioned before going to the surgical pathologist for reading. Thus, shortening time to answer for frozen sections is a significant benefit.

To address an overwhelming number of frozen section tests and delays in surgical pathology turnaround times (TATs), Samsung Medical Center (SMC) in Seoul, South Korea, used 5G network connectivity to develop an integrated digital pathology system that is “enhancing the speed of clinical decision-making across its facilities,” according to Healthcare IT News

This effort in surgical pathology is part of a larger story of the digital transformation underway across all service lines at this hospital. For years, SMC has been on track to become one of the world’s “intelligent hospitals,” and it is succeeding. In February, SMC became the first healthcare provider to achieve Stage 7 in the HIMSS Digital Imaging Adoption Model (DIAM), which “assesses an organization’s capabilities in the delivery of medical imaging,” Healthcare IT News reported.

As pathologists and clinical laboratory leaders know, implementation of digital pathology is no easy feat. So, it’s noteworthy that SMC has brought together disparate technologies to reduce turnaround times, and that the medical center has caught the eye of leading health information technology (HIT) organizations. 

Kee Taek Jang, MD

“The digital pathology system established by the pathology department and SMC’s information strategy team could be one of the good examples of the fourth industrial revolution model applied to a hospital system,” anatomic pathologist Kee Taek Jang, MD (above), Professor of Pathology, Sungkyunkwan University School of Medicine, Samsung Medical Center told Healthcare IT News. Clinical laboratory leaders and surgical pathologists understand the value digital pathology can bring to faster turnaround times. (Photo copyright: Samsung Medical Center.)

Anatomic Pathologists Can Read Frozen Sections on Their Smartphones

Prior to implementation of its 5G digital pathology system, surgeons and their patients waited as much as 20 minutes for anatomic pathologists to traverse SMC’s medical campus to reach the healthcare provider’s cancer center diagnostic reading room, Healthcare IT News reported.

Now, SMC’s integrated digital pathology system—which combines slide scanners, analysis software, and desktop computers with a 5G network—has enabled a “rapid imaging search across the hospital,” Healthcare IT News noted. Surgical pathologists can analyze tissue samples faster and from remote locations on digital devices that are convenient to them at the time, a significant benefit to patient care.

“The system has been effective in reducing the turnaround time as pathologists can now attend to frozen test consultations on their smartphone or tablet device via 5G network anywhere in the hospital,” Jean-Hyoung Lee, SMC’s Manager of IT Infrastructure, told Healthcare IT News which noted these system results:

Additionally, through the 5G network, pathologists can efficiently access CT scans and MRI data on proton therapy cancer treatments. Prior to the change, the doctors had to download the image files in SMC’s Proton Therapy Center, according to a news release from KT Corporation, a South Korean telecommunications company that began working with SMC on building the 5G-connected digital pathology system in 2019.

SMC Leads in Digital Pathology: HIMSS

Earlier this year, HIMSS named SMC a “world leader” in digital pathology and first to reach Stage 7 in the Digital Imaging Adoption Model (DIAM), Healthcare IT News reported.

DIAM is an approach for gauging an organization’s medical imaging delivery capabilities. To achieve Stage 7—External Image Exchange and Patient Engagement—healthcare providers must also have achieved all capabilities outlined in Stages 5 and 6.

In addition, the following must also have been adopted:

  • The majority of image-producing service areas are exchanging and/or sharing images and reports and/or clinical notes based on recognized standards with care organizations of all types, including local, regional, or national health information exchanges.
  • The application(s) used in image-producing service areas support multidisciplinary interactive collaboration.
  • Patients can make appointments, and access reports, images, and educational content specific to their individual situation online.
  • Patients are able to electronically upload, download, and share their images.

“This is the most comprehensive use of integrated digital pathology we have seen,” Andrew Pearce, HIMSS VP Analytics and Global Advisory Lead, told Healthcare IT News.

SMC’s Manager of IT Planning Seungho Lim told Healthcare IT News the medical center’s goal is to become “a global advanced intelligent hospital through digital health innovation.” The plan is to offer, he added, “super-gap digital services that prioritize non-contact communication and cutting-edge technology.”

For pathologists and clinical laboratory leaders, SMC’s commitment to 5G to move digital pathology data is compelling. And its recognition by HIMSS could inspire more healthcare organization to make changes in medical laboratory workflows. SMC, and perhaps other South Korean healthcare providers, will likely continue to draw attention for their healthcare IT achievements.   

Donna Marie Pocius

Related Information:

Using 5G to Cut Down Diagnostic Reading by Half

KT and Samsung Medical Center to Build 5G Smart Hospital

Samsung Medical Center Achieves Stage 7 DIAM and EMRAM

Finding the Future of Care Provision: the Role of Smart Hospitals

K-Hospital Fair 2022, Success in Digital Transformation (DX) Introducing “Smart Logistics”

Digital Health Market to Hit $809.2 Billion by 2030: Grand View Research, Inc.

South Korea: The Perfect Environment for Digital Health

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