Saving time and breaking down barriers with digital pathology

Initially a digital sceptic, being introduced to digital pathology technology and methods has ignited a new passion for Dr Azzam Ismail, a Consultant Neuropathologist, Leeds Teaching Hospitals. Here, he tells Pathology in Practice how his working life has changed.

I’m a neuropathologist at Leeds Teaching Hospitals (LTH) NHS Trust in the UK, providing diagnostic services to the population of the city and its surrounding areas. I enjoy my job tremendously. My daily work involves examining histology sections from brain, muscle and nerve disease, and correlating my findings with clinical history to establish the exact diagnosis. Teaching and research are additional, essential components of my daily work, which I also enjoy. The job is mentally and physically very demanding and yet stimulating and highly rewarding. My focus - like all NHS staff - is the best interest of the patient.

Since I started my training at Damascus University in Syria in 1993, all my work as a pathologist was conducted using my light microscope - looking at glass slides, restricted physically to my office and to a 9am-5pm, Monday-Friday schedule. Since the introduction of digital pathology in 2018 at my workplace (St James’s University Hospital), I can very happily say that is no longer the case! In fully adopting digital pathology as my method of diagnosis, my professional (and personal) life has changed dramatically.

I have always taken pride in my work and would come into the hospital early, stay late and travel wherever I was needed to support doctors and patients. However, as I approached 60 years old, thoughts of retirement started to enter my mind. By 2018, I found myself looking forward to the freedom I thought retirement would afford me to spend more time with the people I love and participate in activities I enjoy. 

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