"One of the visions driving DICOM in general is to give users the freedom to choose the best-of-breed solution components, rather than being tied to single vendor", says Mikael Wintel who has been one of the driving forces behind the adaptation of the DICOM standard to the digital pathology field, through his work as co-chair of Working Group 26. Mikael Wintell is also panelist at the upcoming DICOM Digital Pathology Connect-a-thon at Pathology Visions.
Turning this vision into a practical and workable solution for digital pathology labs, has been the focus for a consortium that successfully answered a big digital pathology tender back in 2013, where DICOM was a strict requirement. This consortium has now completed one of the first successful inter-company DICOM based Digital Pathology Workflow comprising: Lab Information System (Tieto), Scanning (Hamamatsu), Vendor Neutral Archiving (Acuo by Hyland, previously known as Lexmark), Viewer and image analysis (Visiopharm). Now, the consortium is at a point where the fully integrated solution is undergoing acceptance testing before going into full production.
Numerous practical challenges had to be overcome along the way, ranging from simple interoperability issues, over interpretation of the DICOM standard, to achieving the speed that required for production-level review of high-magnification slides on high-definition monitors at sufficient speed.
"That means that inter-vendor DICOM for Digital Pathology has now become practically applicable reality. Although technical aspects will continue to challenge vendors as the field continues to evolve and mature, the success will ultimately depend on the willingness of the vendors to provide truly open solutions that are faithful to the DICOM standard. We have been very impressed with the openness and collaborative spirit we have met with Tieto, Hyland, and Hamamatsu in this project", says Johan Doré, CTO Visiopharm.