Digital Pathology Thought Leader Talks

Dan Plews headshot
Daniel Plews

Daniel Plews is the Product Manager for Digital Pathology at Roche Diagnostics UK & Ireland. Daniel has been involved in digital pathology transformation projects for over seven years, managing the whole lifecycle.

Here, he shares his views on the power and potential of digital pathology and artificial intelligence (AI) to help the NHS tackle its challenges and improve patient outcomes.


Digital pathology is going to truly revolutionise cancer diagnosis

Why is digital pathology critical to helping the NHS face and tackle the challenges of today and tomorrow?

"I see digital pathology as a key tool in helping the NHS tackle the current workforce crisis they're all experiencing. We're seeing a global shortage of pathologists. At the same time, cancer cases are on the rise, and we're developing new and ever-better personalised treatments for patients. That means even more testing on the same number of samples coming through. The workload is growing exponentially, and we don't have the pathologists to meet that demand.

By bringing in digital pathology, we can help spread that workload around the globe. By being able to digitally share these images and have instant access to second opinions, you get access to broader expertise.

For the first time, it (digital pathology) allows the utilisation of AI within the pathology workflow to help multiply the bandwidth of a pathologist. (Digital pathology) can help them screen cases, highlight cases with cancer and score these complex assays."

Pathologist in lab with slide
patient in hospital with doctor
How can digital pathology improve patient outcomes?

"I feel digital pathology can have a significant impact on patient outcomes by removing some of the variability that can be seen in treatment across not just the NHS but obviously the globe.

By bringing in AI tools, it can help standardise the scoring of complex assays, for example. It can also help with some cancer treatments.

The decision of whether to supply a patient with a drug is based on the percentage of positive tumour cells within a slide. Imagine you've got a quarter of a million cells on a slide, and with your eyes, you're trying to decide if that's 49% positive and the patient doesn't get the drug, or it's 50% positive and the patient does get the drug.

For a human to do that, it's tricky and very time-consuming. By bringing in AI, we can hopefully raise the consistency and accuracy of those scoring complex assays."

What impact can AI and digital pathology together have on cancer diagnosis and treatment?

"I feel digital pathology is going to truly revolutionise cancer diagnosis. It is being heralded as the third revolution within pathology. And that's pathology as a whole, not just tissue diagnostics.

Being able, for the first time, to utilise AI to guide diagnosis decisions is crucial for us to overcome the workflow challenges we're seeing today."

Digital pathology and ai close up of glass slide
Digital pathology and ai close up of glass slide pink
How can Roche and the digital pathology solution help accelerate the adoption of AI?

"Roche can really help accelerate the adoption of AI within labs today as we can offer an end-to-end solution.

We can provide everything you need to go from a completely analogue workflow – where you've got pen and paper and pencil on slides – to a fully digitised solution with specimen tracking barcodes on slides, whole slide scanning, image analysis and reporting.

We have digital tools that can sit on top of that and help with data analytics and extracting information to better inform patient care."

Experience the future of digital pathology with Roche

Digital pathology is a flexible solution that benefits pathologists, lab managers, NHS trusts and patients. Lab-ready digital systems can streamline processes, optimise resources, and support the shift to flexible working.

The Roche digital pathology solution combines advanced diagnostic hardware and software with our clinical expertise to accelerate your organisation’s digital journey.

Our interoperable digital pathology solution seamlessly integrates into existing workflows, delivering immediate benefits and long-term impact. We can act as a  digital pathology partner, providing expertise, advice and support to embed change and unlock benefits.

This Q&A is taken from a more extended interview with Daniel Plews conducted by Roche Diagnostics UK & Ireland (data on file). The views shared in this article represent the views and opinions of the original speaker and do not necessarily represent the views of Roche Diagnostics UK & Ireland.

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