New paradigm for the reference laboratory: why CTA Lab invested in digital pathology

Tuesday, 14 December, 2021 | Supplied by: Philips Healthcare

As regional pathology labs face consolidation, or lose customers to large national laboratories, Curtis Thompson, MD, founder of CTA Lab, recognised a need to adopt a new approach to the pathology reference laboratory. Dr Thompson realised that by adopting a digital workflow using the Philips IntelliSite Pathology Solution, his lab could share whole slide images across multiple locations within its network, creating the opportunity for scanning as a service as well as second opinions.


Founded in 2003, CTA Lab is a pathology reference laboratory providing dermatopathology, slide preparation and consultation services to the Portland Oregon Metro Area. CTA Lab serves regional dermatologists, ear nose and throat specialists and plastic surgeons, and also provides molecular testing. Striving for an average one-day turnaround, CTA Lab found success in biopsy results coming timely, through microscopy evaluation.

Choosing the Philips IntelliSite Pathology Solution

When evaluating digital pathology systems, Dr Thompson did a survey of the pathology market and visited colleagues around the world to see digital pathology systems in action. While other systems could handle the CTA Lab caseload, they were all converted research scanners. The Philips IntelliSite Pathology Solution was designed for a clinical workflow, with an emphasis on image quality excellence and pathologist efficiency via bidirectional LIS interoperability.

Changing the pathology workflow

CTA Lab recognises that adopting a new workflow, especially when pathologists have been looking at specimens the same way since Rudolf Virchow in 1858, is an ongoing process. Converting to a digital workflow required a six-month implementation. New workflows needed development, processes needed to be refined, but ultimately, with the help of Philips application scientists and implementation managers, CTA labs adopted a 100% digital workflow.

“After some work getting the Ultra Fast Scanners installed and adjustments to our workflow, the system has been very reliable,” said Dr Thompson. “If there’s ever been a problem, the Philips staff has been very quick to get us back up and running. For additional redundancy and to keep our turnaround time as fast as possible, we have four Ultra Fast Scanners.”

The 100% digital lab

Implementing a digital workflow has allowed CTA Lab to grow their business beyond a regional lab to a national lab with clients in Oregon, Hawaii, Alaska and Michigan. The digital workflow allows for faster turnaround times while also providing easier consultations between pathologists.

“One of the main reasons we invested in digital pathology was for the health of our pathologists,” said Dr Thompson. “For our back and our necks, the ergonomic improvements of viewing cases on a bright monitor have helped with the back and neck problems endemic to intensive microscope use.”

In 2019, CTA Lab was recognised as the first clinical 100% digital lab in the United States by Philips by scanning 100% of FFPE slides. Digital is the default method for diagnosis, and the majority of the lab’s pathologists sign out cases digitally.

CTA Lab views the Philips IntelliSite Pathology Solution as its main source of growth for the next five years and anticipates acquiring new laboratories across the United States by leveraging its digital capabilities.

For more information:

Phone: 1800 251 400
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