iPATH, An Intelligent Network Center for Digital Pathology

Last Tuesday, the 9th of February of 2021, BMD Software and its recent partners, Centro de Computação Gráfica and the Medical Faculty of University of Coimbra, had the opportunity to come together and engage in the determination of the first steps of the iPATH project. iPATH aims to create an intelligent platform for collaborative archive, visualize and review clinical pathology imaging studies.

Computer systems are used with great success in different areas of health. However, the use of digital imaging in pathology is still on its first steps, so it is urgent and opportune to develop telematic solutions to support intelligent diagnosis and distributed cases review. While the radiology field has enjoyed regional platform for more than two decades, including pay-per-use solutions in the Cloud, clinical pathology does not even have departmental digital files that follow the speciality standard (i.e. DICOM).

The digital solutions that exist are proprietary, supporting the slide digitization process and with major limitations in terms of integration with other clinical systems. The lack of inter-institutional Web platforms, interoperable with several scanners via standard communications, is due to the fact that the technology is only now beginning to be mature enough to respond to the major challenges of this sector in terms of data storage and the performance of viewers that have to support images with multiple Gigabytes.

For example, in Portugal, there are 3 reference centers (Aveiro, Coimbra and Braga) that receive the slides with tissue samples via physical mail to be analyzed. In terms of the global market, the pathology faces a crisis resulting from the combination of two factors: 1) the reduced number of pathologists per capita and 2) the increase in requests for clinical services.

A fundamental contribution to mitigating this problem is to develop technologies and information systems that allow the distributed digitization of samples and subsequent Web sending to an archive center where a group of experts remotely reviews cases, according to service policies and using tools intelligent decision support systems that optimize the diagnostic and reporting process.

With the harmonization of knowledge between the partners in this consortium, the iPATH will answer these challenges.

BMD Software has the necessary skills in terms of development and commercialization of solutions for the acquisition, archiving, distribution and visualization of medical images, providing services that are highly specialized in this area to national and international reference entities. The CCG is a research center, connected to the Portuguese University of Minho and has a long and intense experience in the development of intelligent decision support tools in the area of medical imaging. FMUC, this consortium’s clinical partner, is one of the three reference centers of Clinical Pathology in Portugal. The instituions’ doctors and researchers will be fundamental in the process of defining and validating the iPATH platform.


The iPATH project is funded by FEDER CENTRO2020.




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