The growing digital pathology (DP) sector of telemedicine is currently valued at over $320 million, and global growth forecasts predict a 12% compound increase in this amount by 2025, to $888 million.
Increases in chronic diseases such as cancer help account for this unprecedented market growth, chiefly because they bring with them the need for exceptionally accurate and efficient interpretations across a diverse range of pathological markers. This is why hospitals, medical centers, primary care facilities, and organ procurement organizations are now recognizing the tremendous advantages that come with integrating digital pathology and whole slide imaging (WSI) into their existing practices.
The latest research reveals 6 key ways that this innovative technology advances your medical practice, your team members’ capabilities, and most importantly the health of the patients who you serve.
Fast Results for Everyone
Whether you’re located in a busy metropolitan area or have set up your practice in an underserved region, digital pathology creates equitable results for everyone. By helping to progress your patients’ health diagnosis forward in the timeliest manner possible, you can quickly offer therapeutic recommendations which lead to better patient outcomes.
Digital pathology helps save time by streamlining workflow details, including initial diagnosis, expert consultation, and additional revisions and requests. In addition, by keeping data digitalized, you reduce time-consuming slide transport errors and increase your ability to stay organized and efficient.
Increased Reliability and Accuracy
Increased accuracy is an inherent part of digital technology platforms. Digitized medicine practices that include paperless transmission and integrated processes have been shown to decrease medical error rate by up to 99%, most significantly because of the reduction in slide mix ups, damage, and loss during transportation to labs and throughout the on-site specimen review process. Digital pathology also allows for more streamlined double reporting, which helps to ensure optimal reliability of results.
Computing algorithms are another key factor in greater DP accuracy rates. These allow for whole slide imaging techniques that provide a much broader and deeper field of visualization for tissue samples compared to traditional microscopic imaging. By analyzing digital pixel data, pathologists gain additional analytical insights that lead to increased diagnostic and prognostic sensitivity.
In addition, collaborations among specialists are enhanced because distance is no longer an issue. This improved information exchange leads to greater clinical understanding due to the fact that colleagues can exchange ideas even when facing time constraints. The fast communication and digital transmission rates also allow for quick second opinions and transfers between histopathology and molecular testing, which is especially beneficial during urgent cases.
Increased Patient Safety
Alongside greater accuracy rates comes better safety outcomes for the patients that you serve. Manual errors are reduced by using automated DP systems, and diagnoses quality is increased because specialists have the ability to have virtual meetings with their peers. They can also access computer-generated pathology data for vital cross-checking of their interpretations.
Secure DP technology has the added benefit of helping to reduce patient risk of medical data breaches through archived data encryption. This helps ensure that only authorized users are able to access data both as it is being transferred, and when its “at rest” in storage.
Greater Long-Term Insights
Perhaps one of the most exciting aspects of DP technology is its ability to store complex data generated by WSI without fear of degradation. This leads to a better ability by specialists to piece together a patient’s full health picture. New medical information that is discovered at a future date can be tied in with the existing images to formulate more holistic diagnoses.
In traditional tissue sampling, specialist insights were to a large degree limited to the original pathology report since stains typically deteriorate over time. Scanned images of the samples also lacked the more complex pixel data which specialists who utilize WSI now can access at any time using a secure database.
This cloud-based PACS technology opens up the medical field to discovering patterns of pathology through use of specialized computer applications. Doing so provides a more expansive viewpoint that can help pathologists provide greater objective and quantifiable diagnoses. This helps ensures that patients receive information that is based on both specialist expertise and cutting-edge, computer generated results.
Significant Cost Savings
The reduced laboratory overhead and increased diagnostic efficiency that are hallmarks of digital pathology have been shown to reduce 5-year overhead by up to $12 million for large organizations, with a projected savings of $3 to 6 million for smaller to medium-sized facilities.
Some other key areas of savings include decreased staff overtime and reduced outsourcing. Rising numbers in these areas had been a consequence of the recent decreases in pathologists per capita, as well as the increases in the amount and complexity of their workload. Digital pathology is helping to reverse the need for such extra expenses through optimized workflow processes, such as better case management and search capabilities. The ability to delegate caseloads to a large number of distant pathologists has also served to benefit medical facilities’ bottom line.
Multiple Areas of Expertise Under One Roof
Services from pathologists in several distinct areas of expertise who all use the same technology platform allows for streamlined process flow that saves your organization precious time and energy. Telepathology organizations which include DP customer service, training, digital storage and transmission, and project management services all under one umbrella further optimize the diagnosis process, and ensure an organized and efficient workflow that benefits your entire facility.
We offer our digital pathology and whole slide imaging services in 16 distinct areas of expertise, including neuropathology and clinical genomics. Contact us today to find out how our customizable, HIPAA compliant technology, full-service solutions, and Board Certified specialists can help you and your patients grow and thrive.