There’s no question that the statistics surrounding organ donation can be unsettling. When you consider there are over 105,000 people on the national transplant waiting list, and 17 people die every day waiting for a transplant, it’s easy to see how crucial it is to create a process designed to get better results. Digital pathology is one tool that has been helping organ procurement organizations deliver healthy kidneys and livers for transplant by streamlining the process to save valuable time and find organs for people who really need them.
In 2021, more than 90,000 people were waiting for kidneys, but there were fewer than 25,000 kidney transplants performed. For livers, the numbers were more even, but there were still considerably more people waiting than transplants performed. Telepathology is helping OPOs, medical directors, and surgeons narrow the gap, so there are shorter wait times and more successful transplants performed every year.
A Confidence Boost for Patients and OPOs
The emergence of telepathology for organ procurement has helped to increase patient confidence in OPO services. With highly accurate diagnostic rates, access to a wide range of specialists, and much shorter wait times for results, organ procurement organizations don’t have to rely on other forms of transplant interpretation that may have been less reliable in the past. Digital pathology creates the potential for world-class diagnoses, 24 hours a day, seven days a week. The digital platforms used for telepathology also allow for a smooth and streamlined workflow, keeping everything organized and proficient throughout the entire process. And when patient confidence and OPO confidence increase, the likelihood of finding suitable donors in the most efficient way possible increases, which benefits everyone.
Real-Time Collaboration Between Multiple Experts
With digital pathology, the barrier of location is removed, making it possible for multiple experts to collaborate in real-time. Previously, getting multiple industry professionals, colleagues, and fellow doctors together to collaborate on kidney or liver biopsies was time-consuming and quite often impossible. But with telepathology, pathologists can get together via video feed to go over the findings and come to a single consensus.
In the organ donation process, telepathology allows for static image-based systems for sharing captured images from a digital camera that’s connected to a microscope, virtual slide systems that scan specimen slides in high resolution, and real-time systems that use robotically controlled microscopes to allow surgeons to participate during an autopsy, regardless of their location. This makes it possible to assess organs for donation more accurately and much faster, improving the outcomes for potential recipients.
Whole Slide Imaging Capabilities
Digital whole slide imaging is another component of telepathology that can help with kidney and liver biopsies. This advanced technology allows pathologists to view high-resolution images with incredible clarity and depth of focus, making whole-slide imaging a viable option to use in transplant interpretations. It’s even possible to view images side by side to compare them inside a digital portal so doctors can get the most objective biopsy results possible.
The Multiplexing Technique
Multiplex staining, also known as ‘multiplexing,’ is a technique that allows pathologists to identify three or more protein biomarkers at the same time within the same sample. These can then be linked to relevant tissue biomarkers that are embedded in the patient’s kidney or liver graft. In the past, multiplex staining was thought to be complex and often too expensive to be utilized effectively, even though they provide a more holistic diagnosis to OPOs. But with telepathology, the stains can be converted to whole slide images and analyzed quickly and efficiently without any fears of degradation, allowing pathologists to access crucial data for optimizing liver and kidney graft interpretations.
Reaching a Wider Range of Patients
It’s not only the collaborative effort of doctors that is hindered by distance and location. Potential recipients and patients are also affected when telepathology is not being used. When medical practices in rural areas and other remote places can have fast access to biopsy results by Board Certified kidney and liver specialists, the benefits to patients are numerous. By increasing the accessibility of care to a wider range of patients, OPOs can grow their patient base while still maintaining high standards and a high level of service across the board.
A Wide Range of Telepathology Benefits
When you implement telepathology in your medical facility, just about every aspect of having a full pathology team available to you becomes a reality, regardless of your location. Here is a breakdown of the many different benefits that telepathology offers for OPOs and other medical organizations:
- The ability for medical experts in different areas of the world to view images simultaneously
- Real-time collaboration and discussion about kidney or liver biopsy results
- Being able to consult directly with pathologists that specialize in liver and kidney pathology
- Being able to synchronize patient data across a variety of different electronic health information systems
- Being able to reach rural areas and other locations that typically have underserved populations
- No more delays due to transportation issues
- Quick access to previous cases or test results
- The potential for long-term predictive analysis
- A huge reduction in human error
- More accurate, in-depth views of tissue from multiple angles
- More efficient workflow
- Creates better tools for teaching and training
- The elimination of many costs associated with using standard glass slides
Working with Specialist Direct
Working with our team at Specialist Direct means you’ll have access to US-based, Board-Certified pathologists and subspecialists 365 days a year. There’s no question that time is always of the essence when it comes to organ procurement, and our services help to improve diagnostic times and accuracy, providing you with the results you need to serve as many patients as possible.
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