Remote work is no longer a luxury these days—it’s a lifestyle. The field of medicine is no different, but providing care from a distance has long pre-dated the current pandemic.
Connection to the internet is soaring, with more than 19 million connections recorded last year. This year, estimates say that there are over 36 million patients who receive remote care or monitoring. Even more eye-opening is the fact that 15.2 million patients own a device that has remote-connectivity capabilities.
Telepathology is yet another health care field that’s getting digitized. Since the 1990s, labs and organizations have utilized a telepathology system to share pathology images to specialists, no matter where they are.
The benefits of telepathology systems abound, which is why we want you to understand which factors you need to consider when choosing this modern technology.
Are you ready to start saving time and lives with a telepathology system? Here are the top seven questions you need to consider when deciding whether a telepathology system is right for you.
1. What Exactly is Telepathology?
Telepathology is remote pathology or the ability to practice pathology from a distance. More specifically, telepathology allows for remote image communications. This, for the purpose of:
Pathologists may utilize telepathology to diagnose remote patients or populations. This is beneficial for rural communities. In some cases, telepathology has been used for international diagnosis, too.
Having access to reliable and quick data is vital for proper pathology research. That’s why many practitioners are turning to telepathology. Researchers can access digital files of images with more ease and convenience than traditional record-keeping can offer.
Finally, many schools are taking advantage of telepathology for educational reasons. Imagine how useful it would be to live-stream pathology investigations in real-time? That’s the idea behind pathology from a distance.
2. For Which Providers Is Telepathology the Right Choice?
Telepathology is ideal for health care providers like hospitals, clinics, and private practices. University and grade school-level administrators can utilize this technology for educational purposes. Researchers are also the ideal customer for telepathology solutions.
3. What are the Benefits of Telepathology?
By now, you’ve probably realized the incredible benefits of telepathology. With telepathology, we can get second opinions more easily and train the next generation of pathologists.
Yet, telepathology also offers the ability to diagnose frozen sections more quickly. The bottom line is telepathology can help pathologists save more lives faster than ever before.
4. Which Type of Telepathology System Do You Need?
When it comes time to choose the best telepathology system for your needs, you have options. There are currently three different types of telepathology systems with different features. They are:
- Virtual Slide Systems
- Real-Time Systems
- Image-Based Systems
There are also analog and digital pathology systems available. Digital systems are ideal for organizations that value and utilize cutting-edge technology. Developing countries and some rural locations may instead prefer analog capabilities.
Wondering which of the three types of telepathology systems your health care organization need? We’ll take you through each of them next.
5. Who Needs a Virtual Slide System?
With a virtual slide system, teledoctors can view digital images over the internet. Better yet, they can access these images anywhere and at any time as long as they have access to WiFi.
This type of telepathology system is ideal for organizations that want incredibly high diagnostic imaging for the most accurate results. Of course, advanced diagnostic imaging does come at a price.
Virtual slide systems are often the most expensive telepathology systems on the market. This type of system also isn’t right for organizations that can’t store a lot of data— virtual files tend to be greater than one gigabyte.
6. Who Needs a Real-Time System?
Real-time telepathology is also known as real-time robotic microscopy systems. That’s because pathologists use a robotically-controlled microscope that’s located with the distance imaging operator. With the pathologist’s assistance, the microscope can:
- Adjust focus
- Add or remove illumination
- Increase or decrease the magnification
- Adjust the field of view
Real-time systems also have cameras mounted on top of the microscope. That way, the remote pathologist can get a real-time encrypted video stream sent to the on-site monitor.
Real-time systems feature microphones, too, to allow for constant communication between pathologists and operators.
Unfortunately, real-time systems are a similar expense to virtual slide systems. This may not be the best option for organizations on a budget.
7. Who Needs an Image-Based System?
Image-based telepathology systems have been around the longest. The US Armed Forces Institute of Pathology has utilized this type of telepathology as early as the 1990s.
The popularity of an image-based system also relies on the fact that it’s the least expensive type of telepathology out there. That comes with a price, though: static images are only able to record a small subset of the field you need to access.
Despite these drawbacks, a study found that 97.3% of image-based telepathology diagnoses were the same or similar to regular pathology. Though image-based systems may be the least expensive on the market, that doesn’t make them any less effective.
The World Needs More Telepathology Systems
Whichever telepathology system you choose, know that it can not only help train up the next generation of pathologists, the right system can also help you save more lives.
Are you ready to start using a telepathology system at your organization? Contact us today to learn more about how we can help.