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From Pixels to Precision 003: Benefits of Digital Pathology

Digital pathology is all the rage these days. There are many requests for proposals out for end-to-end digital pathology solutions and even more laboratories silently evaluating digital pathology solutions to understand which meet the needs of their institutions. What is driving these laboratories to go digital? In this week’s edition of “From Pixels to Precision”, we dive into reasons why laboratories are going digital and adopting artificial intelligence informed by a market analysis conducted in Mid-2022.

Challenges Pathologists Are Facing Today

  • Reimbursement: Reimbursement is shrinking year-over-year for anatomic pathology, driving margins down and generating the need to realize more efficiency
  • Demand: Demand for anatomic pathology services is rising with an aging population and rising incidence of cancer across the elderly
  • Work-Life Balance: Pathologists are becoming harder to hire as the shortage increases and workloads rise, requiring labs to become more innovative
  • Multi-Modal Insights: Growing applications of precision medicine are requiring pathologists to coalesce quantitative multi-modal insights to inform patient care

How Can Digital Pathology Help Address These Challenges?

Based on our market analysis, the five most common reasons for the adoption of digital pathology included: collaboration, efficiency, data archive, quality of care, cost savings. Additionally, over the past few months, we’ve increasingly heard laboratories considering digital pathology to drive recruitment of new talent and retention of existing talent, especially amidst the growing shortage of pathologists.
  • Enhance Collaboration and Enable Remote Consults: Digital pathology breaks down geographical barriers and fosters global collaboration among pathologists. Experts from different regions can easily connect and share their expertise, allowing for comprehensive case discussions and knowledge exchange. In addition, pathologists can engage in remote consultations and seek expert opinions regardless of geographic limitations. This feature is especially valuable for complex cases, allowing pathologists to collaborate with specialists worldwide, share insights, and collectively arrive at well-informed diagnoses.
  • Drive Efficiencies and Reduce TAT: Digital pathology revolutionizes laboratory workflows by eliminating the need for physical slide transportation. This reduction in logistics translates to faster turnaround times for diagnosis and reporting. Digital slides can be instantly accessed and shared among pathologists, reducing the waiting period for critical patient results. By optimizing the workflow, laboratories can allocate resources more efficiently, resulting in increased capacity.
  • Preserve Data and Image Quality: The digitization of pathology slides ensures the preservation and easy retrieval of patient data. Digital archives provide a secure and organized storage solution for historical specimens, supporting research initiatives, retrospective studies, and long-term patient care. Pathologists can access and compare images from past cases, enabling better-informed decision-making and enhanced continuity of care, without having to worry about compromised slide quality.
  • Improve Quality of Care: Digital pathology provides pathologists with high-resolution images from multiple IHC slides that can be viewed simultaneously, not possible via glass slides and microscopes. With the ability to zoom in on specific areas of interest and apply advanced image analysis algorithms, pathologists can uncover details that might otherwise go unnoticed.
  • Realize Cost Savings: The transition to digital pathology offers tangible economic benefits. Laboratories can significantly reduce costs associated with slide production, storage, and transportation. The elimination of glass slide preparation and physical distribution minimizes resource consumption and waste. These cost savings allow laboratories to allocate resources to other crucial aspects of their operations.
  • Recruit and Retain Talent: Digital pathology laboratories are not chained to recruitment of pathologists in the region or city in which they are located. Digital pathology helps laboratories unlock the ability to hire pathologists remotely while improving pathologist satisfaction to work from home close to their families.

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