Often, we find ourselves in situations that seem overwhelming. Few things are as challenging as battling an illness. Awaiting a diagnosis of a serious condition evokes emotions of fear, anxiety and stress. Seeing a spouse, family member or friend go through this process can be even worse.
According to the NIH National Cancer Institute, a pathologist’s turnaround of a diagnosis report is within 10 days of biopsy or surgery. For patients with severe cases, 10 days is simply too long to wait. In these situations, treatment protocols require near immediate invention to ensure the best odds of success.
Similarly, the inability to receive accurate diagnoses in pathology related cases is further promoting the need to accelerate new ways of thinking as it relates to second opinions. In a September 2011 study that included a sample size of 2,718 patient cases, 25% of the cases had a discrepancy between the original report and final subspecialty report. In 6.2% of the cases, the discrepancy was significant such that it had a potential impact on patient treatment.
Writes famed author Yann Martel in his book, The High Mountains of Portugal, “Under the pathologist’s microscope, life and death fight in an illuminated circle in a sort of cellular bullfight. The pathologist’s job is to find the bull among the matador cells.”
Today, through digital pathology, the fight is being swayed even more heavily toward the matador. Digital Pathology enables the review and interpretation of digital pathology slides prepared from biopsied tissue. This solution makes it easy to share cases with other specialists and health institutions virtually anywhere in the world. In short, this process results in more accurate and timely diagnoses.
Digital Pathology is revolutionizing the diagnosis process within the field of pathology because it promotes a collaborative approach. By making cases available to teams of pathologists and subspecialists, diagnosis accuracy is improved tremendously. This occurs either through simultaneous viewing of pathology cases or through second opinions.
We are also seeing the benefits of digital pathology in organ donation cases. According to the United Network of Organ Sharing (UNOS), an average of 20 people in the U.S. die each day waiting for an organ transplant. Organ Procurement Organizations (OPOs) are using this technology to increase the likelihood of positive outcomes in transplant cases and thus saving lives. Using digital pathology solutions, organ donor pathology cases can be interpreted in just one hour by Board-Certified pathologists. This technology offers individuals waiting for an organ transplant a greater chance at life.
As with any evolving technology, there is always push-back from individuals and institutions unwilling to truly embrace the change that digital pathology invites. However, with digital pathology, the future is now. At this point, no one can argue that this innovation will continue to save more and more lives around the globe.
You may also be interested in, “Telepathology Could Save Your Life.”