The UK Government is in discussions with Roche Diagnostics and partners to support the mainstream implementation of digital pathology services across the NHS.

The investment, which comes as part of its Life Sciences sector deal, could see a new, innovative approach to cancer testing trialled in the UK, which includes whole slide scanners, image management software and image analysis algorithms for use within the health service.

It is hoped that digital pathology services could secure more equal access to experts and also provide a timely and accurate diagnosis for cancer patients.

Under the current system, the shortage of pathologists in the UK and geographic constraints can make it difficult or lengthy for an expert to provide an opinion on a cancer patient case.

Once patient cases are available digitally, experts from any location can review them without such delays, potentially speeding up diagnosis.

Also, increasing the amount of such information that is available electronically could lead to the discovery of new treatments and the development of artificial intelligence algorithms in pathology diagnosis.

“Overall, patient care could be transformed by this partnership as the greater efficiency in tissue pathology services will help deliver faster and more accurate test results across the NHS,” says Roche.

The move could help “transform tissue pathology services and pave the way for the UK to create a new global industry with Artificial Intelligence and Digital Pathology at its forefront,” said Geoff Twist, managing director of Roche Diagnostics UK & Ireland. “We are committed to helping the Government moving forward.”