Overcoming Complex Challenges in Digital Pathology and Radiology - A Case Study
In recent years, the healthcare industry has witnessed a significant transformation with the adoption of digital technologies. Digital pathology and radiology have emerged as game-changers in the field of diagnosis, treatment, and research.
However, the adoption of these technologies brings its own set of challenges and in this case study, we explore how our engineering experts, developed a custom-built digital pathology and radiology platform to address these complex challenges and provide world-class services to our healthcare clients.
Challenges & Solutions
Challenge: Wide Variety of Pathology Slide Scanners
A multitude of digital pathology slide scanners such asHamamatsu, Leica Aperio, Olympus, Philips, and more, are widely used worldwide to produce high-quality digital pathology and radiology files.
However, these scanners generate digital slides in a plethora of formats including .svs, .vsi, .vms, .bif, etc, making it challenging to create a single digital slide viewer that can comprehend and display these diverse file formats seamlessly on a web viewer.
Solution: At Fission Labs, we have developed a custom-built digital slide processor that efficiently handles these varied file formats and converts them into tiled images, which can be effortlessly rendered by the UI application on any web browser.
Challenge: Seamless Rendering of Digital Slides
Solution: Our user interface (UI) application is designed with simplicity in mind, allowing end-users to easily view and examine digital slides on a web browser.
The application is equipped with powerful tools that greatly assist pathologists and radiologists in slide analysis, including annotations, zoom, group view, slide co-relation, and more.
Despite the complexity of dealing with various scanners, different file formats, and large file sizes, our platform abstracts all of these complexities away from the user. As a result, our web viewer works seamlessly with any file format, providing a consistent and reliable viewing experience.
Challenge: Security & Compliance
Solution: To ensure the highest level of security for our patients' sensitive information stored within our system, we have implemented both data at rest and data in motion encryption. We also take rigorous measures to prevent any compromise of security at any stage of our system.
Our web applications undergo periodic vulnerability scans and we have stringent processes in place for data access, file isolation, and data separation. We provide secure access channels through VPN, Bastion server,IP whitelisting, and other means.
Our team includes specialists in designing processes related to HIPAA and HL7 compliance, and we conduct regular training sessions for all members involved in building healthcare products. We take security and privacy seriously and are committed to maintaining the highest standards to protect our patients' data.
Solution: We adhere to HIPAA regulations to ensure compliance with patient privacy laws by de-identifying personally identifiable information (PHI).
Our file processing component is equipped with a special capability to remove labels on digital slides and metadata in Radiology files, effectively erasing PHI before storing them in our system.
This ensures that the processed digital slides/radiology files are safe for sharing between departments or internal teams within a hospital or healthcare unit.
Challenge: Multi-tenancy & Scalability
One of the biggest challenges in extending our product services to multiple tenants worldwide, where a tenant can be a hospital, medical college, university, research group, diagnostic center, etc, was ensuring scalability of the system.
Solution: In order to address this challenge, we have built a highly scalable cloud system with individually scalable components in the file processing pipeline and data serving components.
This has allowed us to handle the load on the system efficiently and ensure that our product services can be extended to multiple tenants without any compromises on performance or reliability.
Challenge: Huge Workloads & Batch Processing
The solution caters to the digital pathology and radiology needs of over 40 healthcare tenants globally, including medical universities, hospitals, and diagnostic centers, who use the platform regularly to process their large digital slide workloads.
Solution: Our highly scalable batch processing pipeline automatically scales up the system based on the workload by spreading files across multiple processing nodes/servers. Moreover, our batching mechanism ensures that each node has enough workload for file processing.
Our team of specialists deeply analyze these file formats and enhance our file processing component by integrating new capabilities to meet the unique needs of each tenant.
Challenge: Cost Optimization
Solution: The utilization of a multi-tenant architecture with centralized processing and decentralized storage allows for efficient optimization of the cloud platform costs, resulting in a shared processing cost model for tenants.
Our scalable cloud architecture enhances processing time and ensures that the digital slides are available for instant viewing shortly after the file is uploaded. Moreover, our system is configurable to maintain a balance between cloud costs and processing time. This means that based on the client's requirements, the system can be configured to scale up or confine at a particular scale to minimize the cloud costs while reducing processing time.
Challenge: Cross-Platform Compatibility
Providing services to healthcare clients globally while ensuring data security brings the challenge of building a software system that can run on-premise, cloud, or hybrid environments.
Solution: To address this challenge, we have engineered and built each component of the system using platform-agnostic software methodologies. Our UI application, file processing component, backend server, data storage layer, and other components can run seamlessly on-premise, on the cloud, or in hybrid models.
Challenge: Artificial Intelligence Capabilities
The utilization of artificial intelligence can be helpful for pathologists and radiologists in analyzing digital slides, as it can reduce the time taken to identify tumor cells among the large number of cells present on the slide. AI models can perform well in specific areas such as lung cancer and breast cancer diagnosis with H&E WSI biopsy slides.
Solution: To address the challenge of integrating various AI solutions, we have enhanced our system with AI middleware to integrate with different AI platforms such as MindPeak, 4DPath, CLAM AI, VisioPharm, etc. This enables us to incorporate the analysis results provided by AI vendors into our slide viewer.
In conclusion, our engineering team at Fission Labs has developed a powerful and customizable digital pathology and radiology platform that caters to the complex needs of the healthcare industry. The platform addresses challenges such as multi-tenancy, scalability, security, de-identification, cost optimization, platform independency, and AI integration, while providing seamless rendering of digital slides from a wide variety of pathology slide scanners.
With a highly scalable batch processing pipeline, configurable cloud architecture, and cross-platform compatibility, the platform can efficiently handle huge workloads while maintaining the highest standards of data security and compliance.
With its AI capabilities, the platform can aid pathologists and radiologists in analyzing digital slides, reducing the time taken to identify tumor cells among the large number of cells present on the slide.
The digital pathology and radiology platform built by our engineering team is an excellent example of how digital technologies can transform the healthcare industry, providing world-class services to healthcare providers and patients worldwide.
At Fission Labs, we have extensive experience in building decentralized clinical trials platforms, telehealth platforms, and other healthcare and non-healthcare products. We understand the unique challenges and requirements of these domains and have developed a deep understanding of the technologies and regulatory environments that underpin them.
Our team of experienced developers, designers, and project managers work closely with our clients to develop custom software solutions that meet their specific needs and exceed their expectations. If you're looking to build a custom software product for your healthcare or non-healthcare business, we invite you to explore our range of services and get in touch with us to learn more.
Content Credit: Pravash Padhy, Bhaskar Vanapalli, ShishirMurthy