As has long been rumored, prior to CAP last week, Philips announced it is developing a digital pathology soultion. Had a chance to speak with several folks from Philips at the meeting and see a protoype of the scanner on the exhibit floor as shown below.
At first glance, the instrument has a large footprint but there are several reasons for this. One is the proposed capacity – 300 slides and the other is touch screen functionality to control the scanning program.
They also had a viewer demonstration (without their own images) to highlight some of the work flow functions. Much like others are doing, as I mentioned with Omnyx last week, work flow is designed around specific patients or "cases" when viewing images.
Philips representatives mentioned 40x scans in under a minute. A prototype scanner will likely be shown at USCAP next March in Washington, DC.
While slide scanning time in and of itself, for me, is not the rate limiting step when you consider the time committment from consent, procedure, processing, embedding, staining, coverslipping, labeling and scanning, higher throughput offers several advantages, particularly for "walk away" scanning of batch slide loads with continuous input (assuming reliable approximately 300 slides every 5 hours). While the first couple hundred slides are being reviewed, there may be enough slides in the cache behind it to be viewed. With a small head start, it is possible for the scanner to stay ahead of the pathologist reading the images with sub-minute scan times.
With the likes of GE and Philips entering the digital pathology space with their long experience and lessons learned from digital radiology, I think this further validates the technology for use in the clinical arena and as consumers we will all benefit from an increasing range of product offerings.
The press release also mentions Philips interest to work with new partners for further development – including development of standards and image capture and compression – which is being actively discussed now with DICOM WG-26.