Mumbai, Maharashtra, India, 15th October 2019: SRL and Microsoft organized a day-long pan India Histopathology Meet, themed on ‘Digital Pathology and Artificial Intelligence’, in Mumbai. The day-long event was attended by leading histopathologists from across the country, the senior leadership team of SRL and the Microsoft Azure Global team responsible for driving AI Network and Multi-party Collaboration.

Setting the tone of the event, Arindam Haldar, CEO, SRL Diagnostics said, “At SRL, we are committed to pioneering innovation in the field of clinical diagnostics in India and value the importance of embracing change in the rapidly evolving technology scenario. The work done by the SRL-Microsoft consortium, in developing deep learning-based algorithms for Assistive Technology in a relatively short span of time, speaks volumes about the capabilities of both the partners. This will be useful in screening liquid-based cytology slide images, for detection of cervical cancer in the early stages.”

Several diagnostics industry stalwarts like Dr. Avinash Phadke, President-Technical & Mentor-Pathology at SRL, Dr. Subhada Kane, a globally acclaimed gynaecologic pathology expert and Head of the Centre of Excellence in Histopathology at SRL, and Dr. Roshan Chinoy, Ex-Professor & Head of Pathology, Tata Memorial Hospital, Mumbai also shared their views at the event. They focussed primarily on AI and the need for histopathologists to harness it wisely to improve patient care. They also shared their views on the great potential of this technology in standardising overall laboratory processes and increasing productivity among histopathologists.

On behalf of Microsoft, Prashant Gupta, Program Director, Microsoft Azure Global Engineering emphasised the need for multi-party collaboration across healthcare and technology providers to unlock innovation and drive industry AI Networks, thus reducing disease burden and saving lives. He highlighted that the SRL-Microsoft collaboration was unique in the pathology world in India and had tremendous potential to make a difference.

R K Pillai, CIO, SRL then kicked off an internal preview of the AI-powered Cervical Cancer Image Detection API. This AI model will run through rigorous clinical validation protocols over the next 3-6 months in which more than half a million anonymised digital tile images will be used, making the process one of the largest exercises in this space.

Commenting on the partnership, Anil Bhansali, Corporate Vice President, Cloud & Enterprise, Microsoft said, “At Microsoft, we are committed to empowering our customers in their journey of digital transformation. We have made significant strides with our partners in areas like cardiology, eye care and digital pathology. Our deep collaboration with SRL, which started last year, has yielded this AI-powered API, which will augment and improve the standard of histopathology to help medical practitioners with insights for better patient outcomes.”

SRL-Microsoft AI Network for Pathology was announced in September 2018. For this project, 6000 cervical smear tile images have been annotated individually by 8 expert SRL cytopathologists.

Post validation, the API product will be previewed outside the SRL ecosystem in various cervical cancer diagnostic work flows. This API has the potential to impact the laboratory diagnostic process by reducing subjectivity and time required for rapidly identifying cells of concern thereby increasing overall accuracy. There is already interest from global healthcare providers to expand this pathology consortium.

This event also included a panel discussion that brought forth the experience of histopathologists, graduating from microscopy to digital pathology, and AI. Senior pathology experts conducted a clinical case presentation session on digital pathology platform where the benefits and challenges of digitalisation were also discussed.