PITTSBURGH, Oct 27, 2010 (BUSINESS WIRE) -- GE Healthcare and UPMC announced today that their imaging joint venture, Omnyx(TM), is initiating clinical research testing of a breakthrough digital pathology platform that is expected to help transform the 125-year-old practice of pathologists using glass slides. By digitizing the slides and corresponding workflow, the Omnyx technology is intended to do what a traditional microscope cannot -- unite an entire pathology department and improve collaboration, communication and efficiency, with the potential for better patient care. Omnyx has initiated research testing of the technology at three sites in the U.S. and a fourth in Canada.
The breakthrough technology is part of GE Healthcare's $6 billion healthymagination initiative to improve cost, quality and access in healthcare, and another example of GE Healthcare's commitment to investing in innovative bioscience technologies. The Omnyx joint venture was inspired in 2008 by a ground-breaking discovery at GE Healthcare's Global Research Center, where scientists developed a patented dual-camera scanning technology that can digitize glass pathology slides at a fast pace without loss of optical quality.
The new technology -- which will be a truly integrated digital pathology solution -- is a combination of patented scanners that boost scan speed by using one camera to scan the slide and a second to simultaneously focus, new imaging software for highest-quality images, and an information technology backbone that digitizes a pathology department's workflow. The digital tools are designed to transform the practice of pathologists using glass slides, microscopes and manual paperwork to advance patient cases.
"The Omnyx technology was created by pathologists, for pathologists," said Gene Cartwright, CEO of Omnyx. "It is a uniquely integrated digital pathology technology to digitize the entire pathology workflow, and is expected to help improve efficiency, enhance quality and bring about faster diagnoses for patients. Pathologists are a cornerstone in the diagnosis and treatment plans for patients, and the development of this system has the potential to further enhance their role. We expect that Omnyx will provide a route for the field to adopt digitization, thereby reaping the cost savings, increased access and quality benefits that other fields, like radiology, have enjoyed since going digital."
"Through healthymagination, we want to marry what's possible with technology with what's needed to deliver better healthcare to more people," said Mike Barber, vice president of healthymagination, GE Healthcare. "By partnering with UPMC we are combining our technical innovation with UPMC's expertise and clinical insight to modernize and bring pathology into the 21st century -- accelerating processes, cutting diagnosis times and delivering relief to anxious patients, overworked pathologists and resource-challenged hospitals."
UPMC, Montefiore Medical Center, Stanford University Medical Center and University Health Network are currently installing, testing and providing feedback on the research Omnyx platform, and will collect data for an FDA submission. GE Healthcare and UPMC have invested $40 million to-date. The digital pathology market is expected to grow to $2 billion over the next several years.
The potential advantages of digital pathology
"Today, studies show an increased need for collaboration in diagnosis in pathology. Given the inherent collaborative limitations of glass slides -- the fact that I have to ship it to someone else to review -- these consultations with colleagues are difficult, time-intensive and limited," said George Michalopoulos, M.D., Ph.D., professor and chairman of the Department of Pathology at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine and pathologist at UPMC. "An integrated digital pathology solution will allow pathologists to quickly share cases with the click of a button, increasing collaboration among specialists and access for rural hospitals."
An integrated digital pathology solution could help enhance the quality of care for patients by:
Increasing the efficiency of the pathology process. Increasing access by facilitating real-time consultation with specialists, regardless of the patient or specialist's location. Facilitating more collaboration among pathologists on patient cases.
Pathology of today and tomorrow
For more than 125 years, pathology has relied on microscopes as its primary tool to determine diagnosis and prognosis. The Omnyx integrated digital pathology technology is expected to help enable pathologists to realize the advantages of the digital age like many of their medical peers, such as radiologists.
"Digitizing pathology is the next big step for the industry -- it's critical in revolutionizing the practice to keep up with the digital age," said Sylvia Asa, pathologist-in-chief and medical director at the Omnyx research site University Health Network (Canada). "At the University Health Network, in addition to being more efficient, we will be able to collaborate in new ways, which will be exciting for our doctors and good for our patients who deserve the same level of medical care regardless of their location."
UPMC is an $8 billion global health enterprise with almost 50,000 employees headquartered in Pittsburgh, Pa., and is transforming health care by integrating 20 hospitals, 400 doctors' offices and outpatient sites, a health insurance services division, and international and commercial services. Redefining health care by using innovative science, technology and medicine to invent new models of accountable, cost-efficient and patient-centered care, UPMC is taking medicine from where it is to where it needs to be. For more information, go to www.upmc.com.
GE /quotes/comstock/13*!ge/quotes/nls/ge (GE 16.06, +0.04, +0.25%) is a diversified infrastructure, finance and media company taking on the world's toughest challenges. From aircraft engines and power generation to financial services, medical imaging, and television programming, GE operates in more than 100 countries and employs about 300,000 people worldwide. For more information, please visit the company's website at www.ge.com.
About GE Healthcare
GE Healthcare provides transformational medical technologies and services that are shaping a new age of patient care. Our broad expertise in medical imaging and information technologies, medical diagnostics, patient monitoring systems, drug discovery, biopharmaceutical manufacturing technologies, performance improvement and performance solutions services help our customers to deliver better care to more people around the world at a lower cost. In addition, we partner with healthcare leader, striving to leverage the global policy change necessary to implement a successful shift to sustainable healthcare systems. Headquartered in the United Kingdom, GE Healthcare is a unit of General Electric Company /quotes/comstock/13*!ge/quotes/nls/ge (GE 16.06, +0.04, +0.25%) . Worldwide, GE Healthcare employees are committed to serving healthcare professionals and their patients in more than 100 countries. For more information about GE Healthcare, visit www.gehealthcare.com.
Healthymagination is GE's $6 billion commitment that was launched in May 2009. Our "healthymagination" vision for the future invites the world to join us on our journey as we continuously develop innovations focused on reducing costs, increasing access and improving quality and efficiency around the world. For more information, visit www.healthymagination.com.
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SOURCE: GE Healthcare
GE Corporate Leigh Farris, 203.373.2599 [email protected] or GE Healthcare Corey Miller, 414.469.5499 [email protected] or UPMC Wendy Zellner, 412.586.9777 [email protected]