Ensuring Patient Safety in Anatomic Pathology Labs: The Unseen Benefits of AI Augmentation

Patient safety unites all healthcare stakeholders. However, despite this shared goal, safety-oriented innovations are rarely implemented simultaneously throughout the healthcare process. Pathology often stands at the end of the line for new technologies and workflow advancements. As a result, many labs continue to face end-to-end challenges associated with traditional processes that rely on manual completion.

Manual pathology workflows are the greatest risk to patients. Tim Spong, founder and CEO of Vistapath, witnessed firsthand just how dangerous a simple mistake can be during grossing — the pivotal first step characterized by highly manual workflows. During Tim’s tenure as a Lab Director at a top-tier hospital, a sample mix-up resulted in unnecessary surgery for one patient and a false positive for another patient. Unintentional medical errors like this cause significant, lasting harm to patients and families.

Motivated to improve patient safety, Tim began searching for new solutions to close the gaps in quality management. He quickly realized that artificial intelligence (AI) had the power to move the pathology process as a whole into a new era of efficient, error-free diagnostics.

Exploring the Benefits of AI-Driven Pathology

Grossing is often the primary source of errors during the diagnostic process. Up to 68% of lab mistakes occur during the preanalytical phase, initiating a cascade of errors that lead to incorrect conclusions and diagnoses.1 This is largely attributable to human limitations during the grossing process, such as fatigue, oversight, the potential for errors, and often the sheer volume of work.

To help overcome these limitations, AI can be implemented into the grossing process to optimize lab workflows and ensure patient safety from start to finish. In addition to driving efficiency, AI-based pathology lab automation elevates quality management and reduces safety risks in six key ways:

  1. Improving consistency. AI platforms like Sentinel have the advantage of consistent precision. These systems operate by a predefined set of parameters to uphold the same standard of grossing every time. By eliminating the variations introduced by human factors, AI automation can significantly improve the reliability of gross reports and diagnostic results.
  2. Detecting errors. In addition to streamlining time-consuming tasks, AI can also flag anomalies or inconsistencies in samples. This serves as a double-check mechanism for pathology technicians, especially during times of high case volumes. Moreover, AI can detect irregularities that might be missed by the human eye, further reducing the likelihood of diagnostic errors.
  3. Reducing sample contamination. AI augmentation systems can reduce the need for extensive human contact with samples. This, in turn, minimizes the risk of sample contamination — a crucial factor in ensuring safety for patients whose tissues are being handled at the same time in the lab.
  4. Enhancing safety protocols. With built-in safety measures and protocols, AI systems are well-equipped to recognize and immediately point out any deviations from standard operating parameters. This proactive approach to quality control further improves diagnostic accuracy and downstream patient safety.
  5. Continuously learning. A substantial short- and long-term benefit of AI augmentation is the ability to adapt over time to meet individual lab needs. These systems are not static; they continually learn from new data. This iterative process further improves detection capabilities and strengthens safety protocols over time.
  6. Empowering pathologists. Contrary to the misconception that AI aims to replace pathologists, digital grossing systems like Sentinel are designed to augment their capabilities by automating repetitive tasks, allowing pathologists to focus on more complex and intellectually demanding aspects of their work. Pathologists can leverage AI-generated insights to make more informed diagnostic decisions and ultimately improve the quality of patient care.

The AI Revolution: The Next Step in Elevating Patient Safety

The incorporation of automation and AI in pathology lab workflow has far-reaching implications for patient safety and healthcare outcomes. By minimizing errors, labs can provide consistently accurate diagnoses and effective treatment plans. This, in turn, reduces the potential harm to patients and ensures they receive the right care at the right time.

As Vistapath’s flagship technology, Sentinel exemplifies this drive for innovation in pathology to ensure the best possible patient outcomes. Through an AI-equipped workbench, Sentinel helps labs achieve faster end-to-end grossing by automatically photographing and measuring samples in less than one second. This optimized workflow paves the way for greater accuracy, efficiency, quality, and — most importantly — safety.

Learn more about how Sentinel leverages AI augmentation to maximize patient safety in pathology labs.


  1. Mrazek, C., Lippi, G., Keppel, M. H., Felder, T. K., Oberkofler, H., Haschke-Becher, E., Cadamuro, J. (2020). Errors within the total laboratory testing process, from test selection to medical decision-making – A review of causes, consequences, surveillance and solutions. Biochemia Medica 30(2), 020502.



Vistapath and PathAI to Collaborate to Validate Automated Tissue Grossing Platform

VistaPath, the leading provider of artificial intelligence (AI)-based, data-driven pathology processing platforms, today announced that VistaPath Sentinel was validated in a clinical setting after a collaboration with PathAI, a global leader in AI-powered pathology. VistaPath Sentinel is the world’s first automated tissue grossing platform.

The Sentinel is a first-of-its-kind tissue grossing platform that automates the process of receiving, assessing, and processing tissue samples. Designed to make tissue grossing faster, safer, and easier, the Sentinel uses a high-quality video system to assess specimens and create a gross report 93% faster than human technicians with 43% more accuracy. It not only improves on quality by continuously monitoring the cassette, container, and tissue to reduce mislabeling and specimen mix-up, but also increases traceability by retaining original images for downstream review.

“Despite informing a majority of clinical decisions, anatomical pathology still prepares samples for diagnosis manually, in stark contrast to other clinical lab services. Our work with PathAI has proven our ability to modernize this critical lab process,” said Timothy Spong, CEO of VistaPath. “This is a complimentary partnership of AI technologies. PathAI’s validation of the Sentinel in a clinical setting has charted the course for broader use of the device in the clinical market, following our FDA and ISO27001 compliance earlier this year.”

For customers like PathAI, the Sentinel adds another level of sophistication to their workflow by providing automated grossing, making the process faster, cheaper and with fewer errors. “We joined with a top anatomic pathology laboratory to establish a new type of modern lab, PathAI Diagnostics. This commitment to usher in a new era of precision pathology requires partners that can transform other parts of the laboratory process outside of the diagnosis itself; VistaPath offers a technology that can automate grossing,” said Dr. Andy Beck, CEO and Co-Founder of PathAI. “Implementing the Sentinel into our clinical workflow can tremendously impact our diagnostic laboratory process management with a high-quality, AI-focused solution.”

Vistapath Launches New Collaboration with Gestalts Diagnostics to Further Accelerate Pathology Digitization

Cambridge, Massachusetts, July 28, 2022 – VistaPath, the leading provider of artificial intelligence (AI)-based, data-driven pathology processing platforms, today announced a new collaboration with Gestalt Diagnostics of Spokane, WA, to further advance digitization in pathology labs. 

The collaboration combines two AI solutions, VistaPath’s Sentinel, the world’s first automated tissue grossing platform, and Gestalt’s AI Requisition Engine (AIRE), a leading-edge AI algorithm for accessioning, to raise the bar in AI-driven pathology digitization. 

Designed to make tissue grossing faster and more accurate, VistaPath’s Sentinel uses a high-quality video system to assess specimens and create a gross report 93% faster than human technicians with 43% more accuracy. It not only improves on quality by continuously monitoring the cassette, container, and tissue to reduce mislabeling and specimen mix-up, but also increases traceability by retaining original images for downstream review.

Gestalt’s AIRE drastically improves speed and accuracy over manual data entry tasks. It is an intuitive and continual learning AI algorithm that is highly scalable and accurately interprets requisition and other form types, including complicated ones. By automatically interpreting data and handwriting from scanned paper requisitions, including complicated form elements, AIRE sends an electronic order directly to the LIS, improving data quality for more timely and accurate billing. 

“We‘re always looking to work with new innovators, and Gestalt was a perfect fit,” says Timothy Spong, CEO of VistaPath. “It’s a great collaboration that will help advance our collective goal of using AI solutions to digitize pathology labs.”

“Incorporating AI in the laboratory to enhance and improve manual processes is an intelligent and highly effective use of technology. By partnering with thought leaders like VistaPath to combine these two front-end functions, tests can now get into the laboratory workflow in a fraction of the time with higher accuracy,” says Lisa-Jean Clifford, COO and Chief Strategy Officer of Gestalt Diagnostics. “In these difficult employment times – this technology reduces your reliance on human resources in hiring, staff turnover, coverage for outages, in addition to providing a competitive edge.”

About VistaPath

VistaPath is modernizing pathology labs using machine augmentation. Driven by computer vision, they provide clients with significant quality, workflow, and strategic benefits with the overall goal of delivering improved results for pathologists, clinicians, and patients. The Sentinel is the company’s first product. Learn more at vistapathbio.com

About Gestalt Diagnostics

Gestalt Diagnostics is bringing anatomic pathology into the digital age by providing enterprise solutions and services to transform anatomic pathology laboratories by providing all-inclusive technology solutions and services that enable clinicians to diagnose diseases faster and more efficiently. 

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Modernizing pathology labs by delivering higher quality, efficiency, and consistency across critical lab processes

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