One way that pathologists diagnose and characterize disease is by examining tissue samples removed from patients. The vast majority of cancer diagnoses are made or confirmed by a pathologist. By digitizing the images that pathologists normally view through a microscope, Philips' goal is to bring the digital switch-over benefits currently enjoyed by radiology departments to this second very important area of disease diagnosis.
Key to the successful implementation of digital pathology solutions are systems that are designed around the needs of the user, that are easy to use, and that seamlessly fit into existing work flows. Philips is addressing these critical requirements by working closely with leading pathologists in the USA and Europe. The Philips system comprises a high-throughput pathology slide scanner and high-capacity image storage and viewing system, plus advanced software for feature recognition and analysis.
"With a much higher proportion of people living to old age, there will be many more sick people in the world", commented Bob van Gemen, General Manager of Philips Digital Pathology. "Coupled with a worldwide shortage of skilled pathologists and the trend towards more pathology tests per patient, there is a real need to improve the efficiency of pathology departments by speeding up procedures and helping pathologists in their decision making and reporting."
As is already happening with digital radiology, digitization in the pathology work flow also opens up new ways of working. It could enable pathology labs to organize themselves more efficiently by concentrating activities where they are most appropriate. For example, it would no longer be essential to locate lab technicians and pathologists alongside one another in the same facility. By making themselves more efficient, pathology labs could perform more diagnoses with the same number of pathologists. Moreover, seeking the expert opinion of external specialists could no longer involve physically sending slides to them.
Philips is already working with leading pathology departments to evaluate the benefits of the system in clinical environments. Nevertheless, it still welcomes new partners to develop the system further - particularly in areas such as the development of industry standards for image capture and compression. It is also actively seeking collaborations with companies that specialize in histological stains and staining techniques in order to develop additional image analysis and interpretation software suites.
Royal Philips Electronics of The Netherlands is a diversified health and well-being company, focused on improving people's lives through timely innovations. As a world expert in health care, lifestyle and lighting, Philips integrates technologies and design into people-centric solutions, based on fundamental customer insights and the brand promise of "sense and simplicity". Headquartered in The Netherlands, Philips employs approximately 116.000 employees in more than 60 countries worldwide. With sales of 26 billion euro in 2008, the company is a market specialist in cardiac care, acute care and home health care, energy efficient lighting solutions and new lighting applications, as well as lifestyle products for personal well-being and pleasure with strong leadership positions in flat TV, male shaving and grooming, portable entertainment and oral health care. More company news is available in the VMW May 2009 article Perot Systems and Philips Healthcare support Microsoft's efforts to build interoperable e-health solutions.