Pathology images are being used in a digital format in most Pathology Departments. However, management of these digital images is usually very inefficient. Standard solutions for acquiring, archiving and communication of these digital images are under development.
The Public Health Service of Castilla La Mancha (SESCAM) developed the “Serendipia project” with the aim of creating an efficient inter-communication tool between the Departments of Pathology of eight public hospitals, using a standard web platform, based on a partnership model of European scope.
To achieve these objectives, the project has been based on the main guidelines and medical standards (IHE, HL7, DICOM and SNOMED CT).
Different types of devices were purchased to cover all kind of images that can be generated in a Pathology Department, including grossing images (biopsy and autopsy), microscopic images, and virtual slides. At the moment, because of the slowness of digital scanners (around 15 minutes per images at 40x) not every case is being digitized. Initially, only those requiring collaborative work, those of high scientific or teaching interest are digitized.
The main functionalities of the project are the integration with the Hospital Information System (HIS); storage of all the images generated by the Pathology Department in the PACS (Picture Archiving and Communication Systems), including virtual slides; a unique viewer that allows showing, at the same time, macroscopic, microscopic images, and virtual slides; and a centralized web telepathology portal including second opinion, teleconsultation forum, and a education public library with over 800 virtual slides.
By using the teleconsultation ant the distance diagnostics through digital imaging will offset the shortage of specialist in Castilla-La Mancha region.
The digitalization of Pathology images allow including them in the Electronic Medical Record project of the Healthcare Service of Castilla-La Mancha. This solution allows other specialists, like dermatologist or haematologist, to have access to this kind of images. As well as improve the training of students and medical residents.
Finally, by using the medical standard in the development of the SERENDIPIA project will provide, in the future, an interconnection with others telepathology networks for access, exchange, and upgrade electronic medical records through the Internet.
This work was supported in part by grant COST Action IC0604 EURO-TELEPATH “Telepathology Network in Europe”.