Local pathologist first in San Diego County to make a diagnosis with new technology


Scripps MD Anderson Cancer Center announced that it has became the first health care provider in the county to diagnose a patient using a high-resolution scan of the patient’s tissue sample, as opposed to the traditionally used microscope.

“It’s relatively new technology which has dramatically improved over the last decade,” said Carmel Valley resident Dr. Pamela Boswell, who became the first pathologist in San Diego County to make a diagnosis with the new technology. “And now we have FDA approval to use it instead of the microscope for biopsies.”

Dr. Pamela Boswell

According to a Scripps news release, the new technology is a digital pathology system that includes a network of high-definition digital slide scanners, clinical-grade computer monitors and a cloud storage platform, which can be faster and more efficient than physical glass slides.

The new digital pathology program will be called the E. L. Wiegand Digital Diagnostic Center, named for the $1 million grant from the E.L. Wiegand Foundation that made its acquisition possible.

Boswell said there could be numerous benefits for doctors and patients.

“It’s my hope that if we embrace this technology this will not only improve the efficiency for us but it will benefit patients in a number of ways,” she said. “My hope is that it will also broaden our pool of young doctors and med students who will become interested in pathology, because many people don’t like looking in a microscope, and this will eliminate a significant barrier that prevents very smart medical students and young doctors from going into an extremely exciting field, which is pathology.”

The new technology could also help expedite the process of getting a diagnosis, and relaying that information to the patient.

“The benefit for patients is that not only does it make us more efficient by not having to move the glass slides around and transport them, but it will improve collaboration efforts so that it’s going to be easier for multiple physicians to look at a patient’s case, so you can have multiple doctors thinking and looking at the same time at someone’s biopsy which is obviously going to be a great improvement for patient care, particularly on difficult cases.”

The digital files can hold notes added by the medical professionals who review them, making communication more efficient.

“Traditionally, if we wanted to consult with another pathologist on a difficult case, we had to send a physical slide to them via courier for review, which can be time and labor intensive,” said Thomas Buchholz, medical director of Scripps MD Anderson and a Scripps Clinic physician, in a news release. “Now with this technology, we can share a digital file immediately and simultaneously to multiple people with a few quick taps of a computer keyboard. This system will also enable us to confer quickly with our partners at MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, which is acquiring similar technology.”