Telepathology refers to the practice of medical diagnosis that’s facilitated by digital transmission of pathological data. As most medical professionals know, one of the main issues when it comes to pathology is the time it takes to get results. When you break down everything that has to happen for a traditional pathological diagnosis, it’s easy to see why utilizing modern technology makes sense.
Making Life Saving Decisions in Real-Time
As an example. when it comes to determining if an organ is viable for donation, a pathologist would have to take a physical tissue sample from the organ and examine it under a microscope. For this to happen, not only does a pathologist have to be available, but they have to be available in the same region or at the same facility at the same time as the organ in question is ready to be examined. This is not always possible, especially in remote areas that may not have pathologists in the vicinity.
With telepathology, all of these logistical issues that used to get in the way are no longer a factor. Patients can have access to pathologists and similar experts even in rural areas, resulting in rapid and accurate diagnoses that can inevitably save lives. If someone is in a remote area, they can make one single trip to the nearest healthcare center or medical facility and not have to travel to a larger healthcare center several times and possibly wait weeks for the results, which isn’t uncommon in traditional pathology.
A Range of Clinical Applications
Telepathology has become a useful tool for a wide range of different clinical applications, such as the following:
Organ Donation – As mentioned above, telepathology is a valuable asset when it comes to organ donation. Using telepathology scanners, digital scans of organ cells can be taken to determine if an organ is viable for donation. Pathologists can get the very same images they would have looked at under a microscope, only in digital form. The tissue samples are digitally scanned at a high enough resolution to provide an accurate analysis.
The sample can be sent to any pathologist anywhere in the world for analysis, drastically shortening the time it takes to find suitable donors. When someone is waiting for a new organ, time is always of the essence because of their current state of health and the fact that the potential donor organ may be damaged as more time goes by. Medical centers and surgeons can get a pathologist’s go ahead in minutes rather than hours, days or even longer. Telepathology for organ donation means not losing opportunities to use viable organs that may have been lost in the past.
Second Opinions for a Cancer Diagnosis – When it comes to unusual or difficult to diagnose cancers, a second opinion is often welcomed by both patients and doctors. With telepathology, biopsy samples can be reviewed by two qualified pathologists in completely different areas of the world, and you can receive answers in less than an hour in some cases. This ability to have multiple experts evaluate potentially cancerous tissues and cells helps patients in multiple ways.
First, the original diagnosis can be confirmed or altered, and the appropriate treatment can be started sooner than if the patient had to wait to see a second doctor in person, or the sample had to be sent to another facility physically. It also helps reduce the stress level of cancer patients because they don’t have to wait in limbo, not sure what their diagnosis actually is. This won’t eliminate negative feelings about a cancer diagnosis altogether, but it will help a patient be more at ease and aware of precisely what’s going on.
Biopsy Diagnosis During Surgery – In the past, a surgeon would have to take sample of a suspicious mass or other tissue during surgery, have it biopsied after the surgery, and then take the appropriate action after the fact. The use of telepathology means biopsies can be cut, stained, scanned, magnified and sent digitally during the surgery to help save valuable time and improve patient outcomes.
Medical Research – One of the problems when it comes to medical research is the time it takes to bring new treatments or hypotheses to the public. Telepathology can help researchers speed up the process, without having to sacrifice anything in the way of accuracy or the depth of the research that’s being done. Basically, you can get the same results with the same level of quality in less time.
Education – When it comes to educating the next generation of pathologists, telepathology removes many barriers and opens up the playing field for people who may not have had access before. The need to be physically present when learning crucial information and skills made it next to impossible for many aspiring medical professionals to get the education they need. But now, just as with clinical diagnostics, education will benefit from these advances in technology.
Other Significant Benefits of Telepathology
Saving time to get the diagnosis you need may be the primary benefit of telepathology, but it certainly isn’t the only one. The nature of the technology means that virtually every aspect of having a pathology team available can be a reality. Here are some of the benefits you can expect:
- Medical professionals located in different cities or facilities can View images simultaneously and use teleconferencing to collaborate and discuss what they are seeing in real time.
- Health care providers can get second opinions quickly and efficiently.
- Doctors can consult with pathologists that specialize in the specific health issues of the patient, such as lung pathology or liver pathology.
- Patient data can be synchronized across a range of different electronic health information systems, making the data available whenever medical professionals need it.
- After it is implemented, a telepathology system typically costs less to operate than a traditional system.
- Service can be provided where it previously didn’t exist.
- Delays due transportation issues are eliminated.
Telepathology through Specialist Direct
When you work with us at Specialist Direct, our team of American Board-Certified pathologists and subspecialists can interpret digital pathology studies within one hour, any time of the day or night, every single day of the year. Our services will improve diagnostic times and accuracy, allow for quick second opinions and help patients in remote and rural areas.
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