Given a rapidly ageing population and an overwhelmed health system, hospitals like Samsung Medical Center had to deal with rising demands for health screening and other diagnostic needs. To meet these demands, SMC combined 5G connectivity and digital pathology, enhancing the speed of clinical decision-making across its facilities.
Each day at SMC, its three diagnostic reading rooms (located in the main building, annex, and Cancer Centre) receive volumes of requests for frozen section tests.
Requesting clinicians seeking consultations with a pathologist usually had to wait for them to come down from their office in Ilwon, which is 15-20 minutes away from the main diagnostic reading room at the Cancer Centre. This delays the turnaround time, which in turn also affects diagnosis-making and surgery time.
MEETING THE CHALLENGE
To enable rapid imaging search around the hospital, SMC envisioned an integrated digital pathology system.
In 2019, the hospital collaborated with Korea Telecom to build its 5G-connected digital pathology system. It consists of a slide scanner with analysis and interpretation software, a 5G network, and a desktop computer. The system is now running across its three diagnostic reading rooms and is also made accessible on mobile devices via the 5G network.
Pathology frozen-slide scanner and 5G–connected Real-time Display on the 3rd Floor of SMC Main Building
The 5G-enabled digital pathology system is able to cut down the turnaround time for frozen test consultations by half to 10 minutes.
“The system has been effective in reducing the turnaround time as pathologists can now attend to frozen test consultations on their smartphone or tablet device via 5G network anywhere in the hospital,” Jean Hyoung Lee, manager of IT Infrastructure at SMC, said.
Also through the 5G network, large file transfers can be made, including over 3GB of frozen tissue scans
“With a regular network, there can be delays in transferring scans of frozen tissues measuring 1.5 cm., which are bigger than 3GB. But now with a 5G network, we can transfer them quickly,” Lee shared.
Interpretation of digital pathology image instead of a microscope in SMC
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THE LARGER CONTEXT
SMC’s 5G-enabled digital pathology system was cited as the “most comprehensive” in the world during the recent assessment for the global first Stage 7 HIMSS Digital Imaging Adoption Model. The system, HIMSS said, can replace ordinary pathology microscopy systems and some automatic computer programmes.
“The digital pathology system established by the Pathology Department and SMC’s Information Strategy Team could be one of the good examples of the fourth industrial revolution model applied to a hospital system,” said SMC pathology professor Jang Kee-Taek.