TMC’s new frontier: digital telepathology hits 50,000 digital cases since launch

TMC has now reported more than 50,000 digital cases since the launch of its new telepathology service and its new “OPTEMIS for Pathology” platform is almost ready for production, allowing TMC to plan for a significant scale up within this area with more pathologists, more Swedish clients to build on our initial client projects in the UK.

TMC is no stranger to finding innovative ways to tackle perennial problems and as early as 2004 we started our first pilot into digital pathology. Unfortunately, we were ahead of our time and the technology was not yet in place to do this effectively.

But in recent years, technology has improved to the point that TMC is now ready to take on large scale telepathology. This technology now includes the use of new high-speed scanners, which can scan (with high precision) the glass slides that you normally put under a microscope to look for pathological findings in tissue. These scanners became available in around 2010 and it was this development that prompted TMC to revisit this area based on its improved ability to facilitate far better digital pathology results and telepathology than the previous systems.

According to Henrik Agrell: “We decided to enter the telepathology market because it has so many similarities with the teleradiology market. At its most basic, it boils down to sending digital images to highly qualified doctors – and these doctors can be located almost anywhere. Across Europe, there’s the same shortage of pathologists as there is of radiologists and we think this is a great opportunity. We’d like to replicate our success in teleradiology and apply those same techniques to telepathology. Ultimately, we think this can help to take further pressure off the system and our aim is to use this technology to offer as many patients as possible access to sub-specialised pathologists. As far as we’re aware, we are the only group currently providing a telepathology reporting service, which we first launched in 2013 with our remote reporting for Linköping University Hospital in Sweden.

According to Dr. Michael Dictor, TMC Head of TMC Pathology section: “Each hospital must be able to scan their glass slides to generate a digital image of the tissue specimen. Currently, the TMC pathologist enters the hospital’s LIS (Laboratory Information System) and uses the image viewer solution to do the reporting. While this approach is adequate, it’s a bit slow and limits the possibilities to work with more hospitals. TMC’s subspecialist model, aims to ensure most cases are reported by a subspecialist within a relatively narrow diagnostic area and to do this, our pathologists need access to specific case types from many different hospitals. However, to log into a large number of different systems is complex and time consuming. Now, with our new OPTEMIS for Pathology platform, they can access all these reports on one system. OPTEMIS for Pathology also offers other advantages such as advanced quality control, professional support for prospective peer review, structured reporting and more.”

Henrik continued: “Right now, we’re working with 3 hospitals in Sweden: Linköping, Jönköping and Växjö. However, within a year, we aim to have 3-4 times more pathology clients up and running, which means we’ll need at least 10-15 additional pathologists during the coming 12 months. That process is already well under way with several new pathologists having already successfully completed the TMC pathology test cases and others about to start.

“TMC is planning to replicate many of the practices we successfully use in our teleradiology business to support as many pathology departments as possible with access to subspecialist pathologists via state-of-the art telepathology solutions. We want to make sure patients can get the best possible care based on accurate diagnostic decisions without long waiting times. Our excellent software development team has of course played a very important role in this project. Again, we see the unique advantage of having an internal software development capability within TMC”.

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