When one places a WSI robot at the end of the slide creation process in clinical lab (after the cover slipper and before slides are sent to the pathologist), one puts a number of stresses on the system. In particular, the system must be reliable (at least as reliable as the rest of the histology lab), and it must be fast (at least fast enough to keep up with the throughput of the lab). This merges the performance of the imager to the performance of the lab. For example, if the lab organized to generate a bolus of 500 slides at nine AM, no device, no matter how fast, will be fast enough. On the other hand, if a lab is organized to generate a continuous flow (or mini-batches) of 15 slides every 15 minutes. Modern, high end imagers can "keep up" with this flow with minimal delay of slide delivery to the pathologist if a subset of cases is presented to the imager based on specimen type and processing rules and if the slides are well made (see below).
Placing a WSI robot in a clinical histology lab quickly demonstrates a necessary symbiosis between histology and imaging. The histology lab plus the WSI robot need to be considered as single imaging device, or, to put this another way, the WSI robot needs to be considered as just another automated histology device (like a processor, stainer or cover-slipper). WSI robots need to be reliable and fast (a large number of slow devices might work, but most histology labs have limited space), but laboratories will likely need to change to automated, mini-batch processes orchestrated by the LIS use bar coding to track and direct slides and incorporating the decision to image into the specimen type and the histology orders.
There is another interaction between imaging and histology that possibly more imaging robots create better images, and create them faster and more reliably, if they are presented with high quality tissue slides. In other words, the quality of the image is a function of the quality of the slide. The histology parameters of tissue placement, the flatness and thinness of sections, their staining, and the quality of cover slipping and label placing all affect image quality, capture speed and reliability. There are good reasons for this, details will be presented by Dr Yukako Yagi at her scientific presentation and paper at this conference. Imaging and Histology are two faces of the same thing – they cannot be meaningfully separated.