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Future of digital pathology

February 07, 2022
Business Affairs
Kees Wesdorp
From the January/February 2022 issue of HealthCare Business News magazine

By Kees Wesdorp

As we continue to battle the COVID-19 pandemic, cancer doesn’t stop, and any delay in the diagnosis and treatment in oncology care can pose a high risk to patients. The rapid adoption of digital pathology services has been critical in ensuring the continuation of clinical services during the pandemic, with pathologists able to conduct primary diagnoses from home while also protecting themselves and those around them.

Throughout the pandemic, the pathology department experienced significant transformation at a scale not seen before in the field. In fact, digital pathology — the acquisition, management, sharing and interpretation of pathology information in a digital environment — has “come of age” over the last two years, with research from Signify indicating the market saw 40.9% growth year over year in 2020.

Health providers and CMIOs are increasingly focusing on pathology within their wider digitalization strategies, enabling a fully digital care solution to speed up the processing of viewing slides to help enhance decision-making. While challenges lie ahead, the power of virtualization and ability to connect with other teams, coupled with advances in AI, means digital pathology is key to a new paradigm of diagnostic precision.

The power of virtualization and care orchestration
One of the main challenges pathology departments face is an increasing shortage of pathologists. In addition, pathologists are spread across multiple locations while trying to be subspecialized to provide the right expertise for difficult cases. This creates a complex workflow, where slides must be distributed optimally to the pathologists across the system, balancing workloads, but also targeting the right cases to the right experts. Complicating matters, once acquired digitally, pathology data is growing exponentially, housed in disparate systems and scattered across various departments. This lack of a fully integrated, interoperable, and secure set of harmonized systems keeps data, clinicians, and workflows siloed and inefficient.

Enterprise-wide digital pathology solutions are able to tackle this issue head on with technology designed to accommodate current histopathology needs for routine use in high volume labs and integrated pathology networks. Through virtualization and better care orchestration, cases can be routed anywhere within the network to be read, scaling access to specialists, optimizing workloads, and decreasing the rate of interpretation errors conducted by non-subspecialized pathologists.

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