Pioneering progress in histopathology

Darren Dacosta - MedPath Project Lead 

Embarking on the challenge of managing the creation and launch of a histopathology service for Medica, the largest teleradiology company in the UK, supporting over 50% of the NHS, was an opportunity I couldn't resist. Shaping our offering to align with the dynamic landscape and demands on the NHS was not only challenging but absolutely crucial. This accomplishment owes its success to the exceptional teams involved, both within Medica and our external providers.

 Our journey thus far has been anything but a sprint; it has been a marathon of dedication and innovation. MedPath's solution is far from a "one-size-fits-all" approach. Instead, we've crafted a transformative model that supports the shift towards integrated and high-quality healthcare. It revolves around tailoring solutions based on clients' individual requirements, both in the present and the future. In this era of innovation in prevention, diagnosis, and treatment, MedPath has been established not only to streamline clinical and operational workflows but also to ensure the quality and affordability of the service. Additionally, our mission extends to supporting the adoption of new technology and innovation. Recognising the widening demand-capacity gap within histopathology, our overarching goal is to assist the NHS in efficiently managing every patient's diagnosis, translating to swift treatment decisions and improved outcomes.

Opened in late 2023, our new pathology hub, situated in Runcorn, Cheshire, UK, is the hub of our operations. Equipped with a digital scanner, it enables us to digitise glass slides for reporting from our esteemed team of UK-based histopathologists. As we gear up for phase 2, where we will begin accepting digital images for reporting, our commitment to innovation remains unwavering.

 To complement our scanning and reporting service, MedPath is developing a comprehensive and fully managed suite of services to our clients:

  •  Triage and workflow management: Enhancing the effectiveness, value and clinical accuracy of histopathology systems and processes.
  • Maximising client internal capacity: Providing supplementary administration and specialist reporting resources during times of high demand.
  • Performance metrics improvement: Streamlining the reporting process within KPIs to enhance local performance metrics against national targets.
  • Cancer waiting times support: Committed to supporting timely access to cancer diagnosis and treatment.
  • MDT support: Facilitating multi-disciplinary team collaboration for comprehensive patient care.

MedPath is not merely a service; it is a commitment to advancing healthcare through innovation, efficiency, and dedication. Our story is one of continuous progress, and we are set to redefine the future of histopathology.


Medica 2023 highlights: a year of achievements and growth – Sarah Burns, Managing Director

Sarah Burns - Managing Director

A year of achievements and growth: Medica 2023 round-up:

As we bid farewell to another eventful year, I am thrilled to reflect on the remarkable progress and achievements that Medica has experienced throughout 2023. The dedication and hard work of our team, combined with strategic moves and partnerships, have positioned us for an even more exciting future. Join me as we take a journey through the key highlights of the year.

 Expanding horizons: JCA Seminars acquisition

At the beginning of the year, we embarked on a significant venture by acquiring JCA Seminars. This strategic move not only broadened our offerings but also paved the way for collaboration and growth. Over the next 12 months, we are committed to developing and extending their capabilities. Keep an eye out for exciting opportunities for reporters to engage and leverage JCA Seminars for CPD. The coming year promises new educational events and products that will shape the landscape in 2024 and beyond.

Embracing change: Medica’s acquisition by IK Partners

In July, Medica underwent a transformative change as IK Partners acquired the company, leading to our delisting from the London Stock Exchange. It is essential to note that this change is not a deviation from our direction and governance but, rather, an endorsement of our strengths and commitment to sustained growth and evolution.

 A new era of reporting: MedConnect

November marked a significant milestone with the launch of Medica’s new reporting platform, MedConnect. Featuring HL-7 integration and some additional in house developed features, this will increase efficiency for both our reporters and hospitals, saving time and resource. We anticipate making this widely available as part of our offering in 2024.

 New service launched: MedPath digital histopathology reporting

Also in November, we celebrated the grand opening of our new digital pathology reporting hub in Runcorn, Cheshire—now the home of MedPath, our digital histopathology reporting service. Just last week, we celebrated the successful launch of phase 1 in the MedPath service line. Offering a comprehensive digital histopathology service that includes routine and specialist reporting, along with full management, MedPath is poised for success. We look forward to extending this service to clients in the coming year.

Global reach: expanding the number of overseas reporters

Throughout 2023, we witnessed a surge in the number of overseas reporters joining Medica from India, Europe, Australasia, and the UAE. This expansion is not only a testament to our global impact but also an exciting avenue for further growth. As we move forward, we remain committed to nurturing and expanding our reporter base in these regions.

In closing, I want to express my gratitude to everyone who has contributed to Medica’s success in 2023. Your dedication, passion, and collaborative spirit have fuelled our achievements, and I am confident that the coming year holds even greater promise. Happy new year everybody!

 

Sarah Burns – Medica UK Managing Director


Rachael Nicholson: Leading the way at our new MedPath hub

Rachael Nicholson - MedPath Hub Manager and Biomedical Scientist

MedPath is a new service line for Medica, a leading provider of telehealth services, providing support to clients across the UK and Ireland.

Our goal was to create a service designed and led by pathologists and biomedical scientists, for pathologists and biomedical scientists. To do this we have created a bespoke SECTRA reporting platform and used the latest scanning technology, 3D Histech P1000.

The MedPath Hub, based in the Heath Business and Technical Park, Runcorn, offers cutting-edge technology dedicated to the future of histopathology reporting. Our team of hybrid staff is dedicated to maintaining a high level of quality and delivery.

Each client has a bespoke package, dependent on their requirements, so the team has to work diligently to ensure that each client’s expectations and targets are met or exceeded.

Quality is extremely important to us in MedPath. The hub has had recent success with a highly positive ISO 15189 pre-assessment report with full assessment expected in December. We are also extending the scope of our current ISO 9001 and 27001 accreditation to include MedPath services to ensure we are providing a high level of quality throughout our telehealth services.

The hub has two input streams – a client may choose to send us digital slide images, or they may send us glass slides for us to digitise. With our state-of-the-art scanner, we can process around 1500 glass slides a day. Once the slides are digitised and quality inspected, they are allocated to our team of highly specialised pathologists.

This team is led by our esteemed Clinical Director, Dr Kishore Gopalakrishnan. He says: “Digital telepathology has been the revolution that cellular pathology has been waiting for. It is a technology that will allow for appropriate distribution of a scarce and skilled workforce. Along with AI applications, it should help bring about speedier diagnosis and therefore improve the patient’s journey. As we tread along this new front, it is imperative that there is stringent clinical governance and that is one of our strengths. Medica’s strong track record of clinical audit and case review in radiology is something that really appeals to me, and it will be  implemented in telepathology reporting as well.”

Whilst the service is still new, we are already looking into ways to expand and improve. We are developing Pathology Plus – an option for managed services, and trialling AI technology to aid our pathologists and reduce reporting times. Pathology Plus will help clients manage their pain points, particularly in relation to staff shortages with secretaries, lab staff and pathologists. Pathology Plus will be a bespoke service in which we will send Medica staff directly into labs to assist and relieve backlog pressures. We created this service in mind of reducing patient waiting times, reducing backlog work; returning resilience back into departments in order for them to tackle areas of pressure and strain.


A day in the life at RSNA: day 3

Dr Rob Lavis - Group Medical Director

Day 3

Today we spent another fruitful morning at the AI stands.

We spoke with TeraRecon about their move into the AI marketplace with a platform that allows access to multiple algorithms from multiple providers. We also discussed new software releases for 2024 where they will launch a new CMR package with enhanced capabilities.

At Circle Cardiovascular Imaging, we viewed their AI enabled cardiac MR and CT packages available on a pay per click, subscription or floating licence agreement. They described easy PACS integration and enhanced workflow with reduced user clicks and automated processing in 20s (GPU) or 2 minutes (CPU) for the CMR package. Dr Timothy Albert, CMO, gave a great talk about the products at the AI theatre.

We caught up with some old colleagues at Collective Minds and MediMaps. We then spent time with the team at Flywheel. They provide an end to end data management and curation platform aimed at facilitating faster workflows in research and development.

After a Greek lunch at the conference dining facility, we signed out and headed for O'Hare airport to go our various ways.

In summary, there is no doubt AI is here to stay and looks set to make huge impacts on workflow efficiencies and reporter experiences. Whilst at Heathrow airport I was politely asked to move aside for an R2-D2 style floor cleaner that then thanked me for my cooperation and moved on. A little bit iRobot and slightly disconcerting. I do not see radiology AI replacing radiologists. I do see it assisting in the growing deficit between imaging growth and radiologist numbers.

So long Chicago and thank you for the memories, the networking opportunities, the knowledge expansion, the music and the pizza!

   

 


A day in the life at RSNA: day 2

Dr Rob Lavis - Group Medical Director

Day 2

AI, freezing temperatures and sunrise breakfast.

An early start today for a RadMD and Medica Group breakfast event at the British Consulate General’s residence in Chicago. The Consul General hosts events to promote UK and US business opportunities.

The event was very well attended with representatives from Sectra, Siemens, Annalise ai, RadMag, Takeda, PanCAD.ai, Lucida Medical, DeepTek, Cerebriu, Merck, Merck Kga, Therapixel, IDX, The Faculty of Radiology of Ireland, Pukka J, Terarecon, Reveal pharma, Qmenta, Reveal DX, i Sono, Medica UK and Ireland reporters, our UK exec team, US team and IK Partners. The Consul General, who’s brother is a radiologist, gave an overview of the work he does. Medica CEO Stuart Quin then gave an overview of Medica globally and our expansion in recent years. I gave a brief summary of opportunities and challenges in AI in practice and Dr Rick Patt of RadMD spoke of the opportunities that AI presented to research reporting.

Some excellent discussions ensued over breakfast as the sun rose over Lake Michigan. There are some fantastic opportunities in prostate MRI to streamline reporting. Pancreatic cancer can be hard to detect and PanCAD.ai are working to assist radiologists by detecting incidental or early pancreas tumours on CT.

There were lots of interesting conversations regarding the positioning of AI in radiology. Opportunities include data cleansing and homogenising, workflow optimisation, clinical detection assistance tools and report template generation among others. The important messages were to make sure you choose a tool to answer your specific question. Choosing the tool can be helped by test platform vendors such as CARPL.ai and multiple algorithm deployments can be managed by providers such as AiDOC and aggregators such as Blackford.

Later in the day we were treated to a future insight of Sectra PACS reporting with AI assisted patient imaging history summaries, free speech conversion to templated reports and upcoming developments in the radiology and pathology PACS systems.

The day was rounded off with an evening hosted by Sectra at a table tennis club, meeting reporters, UK clients and corporate representatives. We head into our last day at RSNA 2023 tomorrow.

 

 


Embracing digital pathology and redefining remote reporting

Dr. Kishore Gopalakrishnan - MedPath Clinical Director

Over the years, histopathology has become a less popular choice among junior doctors, partly due to limited exposure to laboratory services resulting from the modified medical curriculum. There is a notable shortage in various specialties, with some being more severely affected. Advances in screening, radiological imaging, and diagnostic sampling techniques have led to a growing workload in histopathology. Microscopic detailing requirements for pathology reports have significantly increased, and the use of minimum datasets for reporting has become a standard practice. Advances in molecular techniques and the resulting optimal treatment options have introduced a need for more information and additional testing on histopathology samples.

For these reasons, pathologists now spend more time on cases than in the past. Consequently, the pathologist workforce has struggled to keep up with the rising demand. Many pathology departments face backlogs of cases awaiting final reports. While the concept of expert pathologists remotely reporting histopathology cases from home has always been appealing, logistical challenges involving the distribution of glass slides and sensitive data have made it complex.

The emergence of digital telepathology, such as MedPath, has overcome these challenges. MedPath can receive digital pathology images nationwide and also provides a glass slide scanning service for non-digital departments. This facilitates the distribution of digital images to MedPath’s consultant histopathologists based in the UK, enabling quick and comprehensive reports that expedite patient diagnosis.

In my current role as Clinical Director for MedPath, I have been fortunate enough to contribute to the development of a new resilient, clinically-led histopathology reporting service. We provide sub-specialist reporting and this service offers flexible solutions to address NHS backlogs and routine reporting needs. Book your free no-obligation consultation to find out more.


My journey as a digital histopathologist

Dr. Kishore Gopalakrishnan - MedPath Clinical Director

I entered the world of digital pathology in 2015, a solid 15 years after I had first looked down the eyepieces of a pathology microscope. It began, as these things usually do, by being approached by an enthusiastic pathologist colleague at University Hospitals Coventry and Warwickshire NHS Trust, keen to test a digital pathology reporting system and to attempt to study if it could replace a microscope.

Back then, it felt almost blasphemous, and I remember saying I’d assist with the study, but was certain the digital images wouldn’t be good enough! Jump ahead six months, and I was practically urging him to make sure digital pathology stuck around. I was really hoping the study results would back me up, and luckily, they did. So, I’ve been a digital histopathologist ever since!

I began working remotely from the department for one day a week, and the home setup and testing showed that this was feasible. When the pandemic began, the same digital setup was implemented for all pathologists in the department. This allowed histopathology to function well, even during periods of home isolation enforced by contact tracing.

Remote reporting through digital telepathology holds the potential to enhance productivity and support cancer waiting times. Commuting time is no longer a concern, and time is saved by not having to wait at home for the boiler engineer or take care of sick children. Prolonged use of microscopes is also linked to musculoskeletal disorders in the neck, back and upper extremities. While sitting in front of computer screens and using a keyboard and mouse for extended periods can also lead to certain musculoskeletal disorders, there are more ergonomic options available to counter these issues.

In my current role as Clinical Director for MedPath, I have been fortunate enough to contribute to the development of a new resilient, clinically-led histopathology reporting service. We provide sub-specialist reporting and this service offers flexible solutions to address NHS backlogs and routine reporting needs. Book your free no-obligation consultation to find out more.