Telemedicine helps treat patients seeking the medical care they need in underserved areas. Healthcare inequality in these areas is also top of mind for medical facilities struggling to meet the needs of an aging population. Also, with age comes an increase in the diagnoses of chronic diseases such as cancer.
Digital pathology (DP) provides accuracy and interpretation efficiency, allowing specialists to diagnose and consult on remote cases. Hence, an increasing number of hospitals, medical centers, primary care facilities, and organ procurement organizations recognize the advantages of digital pathology and pathology scanners to aid in managing a growing number of cases and equality for underserved areas.
More specifically, integrating digital pathology and whole slide imaging (WSI) is becoming common in existing practices, improving their ability to diagnose these chronic conditions quickly and accurately. For example, studies show WSI technology can be used for primary diagnosis and consultation, including intraoperative (IO) frozen section (FS). As a result, patients can receive the treatment they require to improve outcomes significantly.
As a result, DP is changing how many healthcare facilities conduct patient care. An aging population and increasing diagnoses of chronic diseases are contributing factors to growth in the digital pathology (DP) sector. So much so experts predict market value to reach $888 million by 2025.
Technology platforms have reinvented how medical professionals interact, creating a central hub where pathologists in several distinct areas of expertise share information. This streamlines the diagnostic process while improving accuracy. This collective approach is also noted in telepathology organizations providing a comprehensive selection of services under one umbrella, including DP customer service, training, digital storage and transmission, and project management. This new diagnostics model optimizes the diagnosis process, improving workflow efficiencies, saving money, and benefiting medical facilities and patients alike.
Here we look at five key benefits of using digital pathology at your medical facility.
- Faster Results
Digital pathology is closing the gap between the level of health care available in busy metropolitan areas and underserved regions. Healthcare equality ensures patients and doctors access digital technology to produce equitable results for everyone. Your healthcare medical facility can help expedite your patients’ health diagnosis and quickly offer therapeutic recommendations to enjoy improved patient outcomes.
When you consider the intricacies of scheduling tests, awaiting results, sharing information with other healthcare providers, and getting the diagnosis to the patient, any time saved makes meaningful changes for your patients. According to studies, the average time savings realized through digital pathology was 19 hours per day. This reduction in diagnostic times saves money to improve patient services while also ensuring patients are treated in a timely manner.
Digital pathology streamlines workflows empowering teams to include expert consultation and additional revisions and requests following the initial diagnosis. All stages are easier at the consultation level as digitalized data facilitates the easy sharing of digital slides and images while reducing the risk of slide transport errors and damage.
- Reliability and Accuracy
Using paperless transmission and integrated processes decreases medical error rates by up to 99% at digitized medical practices. By sharing vital information from a secure platform, these facilities do not contend with common errors throughout the onsite specimen review process, such as slide mix-ups, damage, and loss. Digital pathology also facilitates streamlined double reporting, optimizing the reliability of results. Increased accuracy is inherent in digital technology platforms as everything is uploaded and stored for easier results readings and less chance of loss.
Computing algorithms also contribute to DP accuracy rates. They allow for WSI techniques with a much broader and deeper visualization field for tissue samples than traditional microscopic imaging. Pathologists gain additional analytical insights with digital pixel data that increases diagnostic and prognostic sensitivity.
With easy collaborations among specialists, distance is not an issue with technology providing real-time information exchange. Your medical team acquires greater clinical understanding by exchanging ideas with specialists and colleagues without worrying about time constraints. Instant communication is possible using digital transmission. Hence, it is easy to acquire quick second opinions. Medical teams can transfer histopathology and molecular testing, which is especially beneficial during urgent cases.
- Patient Safety
Through increased accuracy, patient safety is improved. Your facility can reduce manual errors using automated DP systems while improving diagnosis quality through virtual specialist consultations. Teams can share and access computer-generated pathology data for vital cross-checking of their interpretations using secure DP technology.
The same security decreases the risk of medical data breaches with the introduction of archived data encryption. Your medical facility can use role-based authorizations and passwords to ensure that only authorized users can access stored or shared data.
- Long-Term Insights
WSI-generated complex data is stored without fear of degradation. As a result, specialists can rely on comprehensive views of a patient’s health. As new medical information and results become available, the existing data is in pristine condition allowing your team to maintain a continuous record to formulate more holistic diagnoses.
This is a major advancement as your team has access to the WSI itself instead of relying on the original pathology report. With digital imaging, staining won’t deteriorate the slide images over time, allowing specialists to form an opinion based on their own expert observations. It also serves as a clear point of reference when looking for changes in tissue in future tests.
Cloud-based PACS technology presents opportunities for your medical facility to discover patterns of pathology utilizing specialized computer applications. This technology offers a more expansive viewpoint empowering pathologists to make objective and quantifiable diagnoses. As a result, information shared with patients is based on specialist expertise and computer-generated results.
- Cost Savings
The savings realized over a five-year period resulting from reduced laboratory overhead and increased diagnostic efficiency are staggering. Average savings reached between $3 to $6 million for small to medium facilities and as much as $12 million for large organizations.
Increased overtime and outsourcing are recurring challenges for medical facilities. Decreases in pathologists per capita, in hand with increasing workload numbers and complexity of cases, take their toll on underserved areas. However, with improved efficiencies, many facilities also decreased staff overtime and outsourcing.
Digital pathology is helping medical facilities avoid the need for these extra expenses through improved case management, search capabilities, and optimized workflows. Offloading cases to a pool of remote pathologists also positively impact profitability. As a result, your medical facility can process more cases and take on more patients without compromising your quality of care.
Multiple Areas of Expertise Under One Roof
At Specialist Direct, we offer digital pathology and whole slide imaging services. Contact us today to find out how our HIPAA-compliant technology, full-service solutions, and Board-Certified specialists can help you and your organization grow and thrive. Contact us for more information.