Digital Pathology and the Laboratory Medicine Program

Recently, the Laboratory Medicine Program at Lakeridge Health unveiled their fully digital pathology system. As the first hospital in Canada to establish a fully digital pathology laboratory, the new system is going to change everything! It will cut wait times for patients, ensuring that they and their clinician receive their diagnosis faster, allowing them to make decisions sooner about the next steps of their care. It is a streamlined, smooth and quick system that connects the patient to the right pathologist in a way that will make a real difference.

What is digital pathology?

Digital pathology is when tissue samples, taken from a patient, are scanned and uploaded through a cutting-edge digital system that allows pathologists to view the samples from their computer – whether they are down the hall from the patient, in another city, or around the world.

Dr. Andrew Evans talking to the Minister of Health via skype
Dr. Andrew Evans talking to the Minister of Health via skype

Lakeridge Health currently has two digital scanners and is currently uploading more than 100 slides per day, with the capacity to upload 400.  Already the technology is being used for the diagnosis cancers involving head and neck, liver, thyroid, lung and bone.

The partnership between the laboratory at Lakeridge Health and University Health Network is incredibly beneficial to patients across the province. Both laboratories are overseen by Dr. Sylvia Asa, who serves as Medical Director of Laboratory Medicine at both places, and Brad Davis who is Executive Director of the labs at both sites.

How does this help patients?

When a patient has a biopsy or operation and a piece of tissue is removed, the laboratory undergoes a series of steps that puts a very small piece of that tissue onto a glass slide so that a pathologist can view the tissue under a microscope.

Dr. Asa being interviewed by Global
Dr. Asa being interviewed by Global

What makes the pathology laboratory at Lakeridge unique is that it is the first laboratory in Canada to go the next step and digitize all pathology slides. This reduces the length of time that a patient has to wait because the slides no longer have to be shipped in order to be seen by the right pathologist. By going digital, the slides can be seen almost instantly.

Dr. Sylvia Asa at the press conference at Lakeridge Health
Dr. Sylvia Asa at the press conference at Lakeridge Health

“Instead of preparing, packaging and shipping slides across the province or sometimes across the country, now within minutes we can upload the image and it can be seen by the right pathologist the first time,” says Dr. Sylvia Asa, Medical Director of Laboratory Medicine at Lakeridge Health and UHN.  “For difficult cases, this means 2 or 3 or even 10 pathologists can look at the sample at the same time, talk to each other about it, and make sure that the first result back is the right one.”

The digital pathology project at Lakeridge Health was made possible with funding and support from Canada Health Infoway. Digital pathology at Lakeridge will also be a part of the larger Infoway funded telepathology project that is currently underway – the multi-jurisdictional Telepathology (MJT) network project, which will includes sites within Ontario, Manitoba, and Newfoundland, is underway with implementation set for late 2014. Once completed, this MJT network will support the consultation workflows between pathologists within and across provincial borders which is new and ground-breaking territory for telepathology in Canada.

Check out some more news coverage of the digital pathology project below – click on image for link:

Global News – 


CTV News  – 

ctv news

Toronto Star – 

toronto star

3 thoughts on “Digital Pathology and the Laboratory Medicine Program

Add yours

  1. Congratulations! I’m so pleased that the adoption of telepathology at Lakeridge Hospital and Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre has been so successful. Both of these sites exceeded their local volume adoption targets and we will be looking to share their learnings with new sites across the country that are preparing to adopt the technology. Most notably, as a result of telepathology at these sites, patients are now able to receive their results from their physician more expediently and their physicians will have almost instant access to the sub-specialty pathologists at UHN. Infoway is proud to have invested in this worthwhile project, along with digital pathology projects in Timmins & District Hospital, Sensenbrenner and Sault Ste. Marie. All five sites are now connected with the UHN Telepathology team.

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