Only about 24% of medical organizations are taking advantage of all that telepathology has to offer. With so many benefits, it’s surprising to see that so many medical facilities aren’t using telepathology.
Telepathology is a recent medical breakthrough that every medical facility should be using. The digital practice is one of the latest in the push for remote medicine.
If you’re looking to learn more about all of the great benefits of telepathology, keep reading. We’ll tell you what telepathology is and go through the three different kinds of telepathology systems so that you can choose the best type for your facility.
Telepathology is simply remote pathology. As with other medical fields, pathology has begun making the transition to remote work.
Telepathology requires that slide images be sent between a medical facility and a remote location for diagnosis, education, and research purposes. Typically, medical facilities will send images off for pathologists to diagnose.
By working with a telepathology company, you can have access to several different kinds of pathology professionals. This means that you’ll be able to discuss special issues with subspecialty pathologists, like neuropathologists or renal pathologists.
Being able to talk to these sub-specialty pathologists means that you’ll be able to work with pathologists who know their specialty’s slides exceptionally well. They can identify conditions and other issues that a traditional pathologist may not be able to find.
Telepathology also makes diagnosis easier and faster. A patient can be diagnosed in one trip to a medical facility rather than having to wait a week or travel elsewhere.
This timing is especially useful in rural towns where medical professionals are few and far between.
There are three different kinds of telepathology systems that you should know before working with a telepathology service: virtual slide pathology systems, image-based pathology systems, and real-time pathology systems.
Virtual Slide Telepathology Systems
The virtual slide pathology system digitizes slides. It completely removes glass slides from the practice of pathology.
With virtual slide pathology, scanners copy glass slides and turn them into digital slides for remote pathologists to use. These images are high-resolution, which means that they are highly detailed.
When scanning these slides, there are no alterations to the image. The specimen on the slide appears precisely the same as if someone were viewing it under a microscope with a glass slide.
In fact, virtual slides may help pathologists be even more accurate because of the hugely detailed images. These are much more useful than past kinds of pathology procedures.
Virtual slides are also better at preserving slides. With regular glass slides, specimens can age and become discolored. This is a severe problem if the pathologist doesn’t view the slide before any alterations take place.
With virtual slides, pathologists can look at the original images at any time. Because of this, these professionals can go back and look at any sample they want or need to. They can also use these older samples for research and education purposes if the care is particularly interesting.
Image-Based Telepathology Systems
Image-based pathology systems are the cheapest of all three of these kinds. This is also the easiest form of pathology to use.
Image-based pathology simply uses pictures of those specimens on the slide. In this way, it is the system that is most in-line with in-person pathology work.
Pathologists that are working with image-based pathology systems simply look at the images that are sent to them. Typically, these images aren’t on a large, detailed scale like those from virtual pathology systems.
These images are usually a collection of small, up-close pictures of whatever samples the pathologist is looking to study. With virtual pathology systems, there is one high-resolution image that the pathologist can zoom in on and move around with. Image-based systems simply give smaller, slightly lower quality images for the pathologist to study.
However, image-based pathology systems are still beneficial for pathologists and the medical staff that they’re working with. They just aren’t quite as advanced as virtual pathology systems.
Image-based pathology systems also work by taking pictures of glass slides. Usually, there is no digitization of the slide except for the images themselves.
Because these images are taken when the specimen is fresh, it also prevents discoloration of the images. They are stand-still and cannot age over time as the standard slide would.
Real-Time Telepathology Systems
Real-time pathology systems are arguably the best kind of pathology system for pathologists to use. With real-time pathology systems, the remote pathologist can use a remote to move a microscope that is viewing the specimen in real-time.
Once the slide is placed under the electronic microscope, the pathologist can use their technological systems to move the microscope around and view the specimen to diagnose any potential problems.
Real-time pathology systems give remote pathologists access to fresh slides that they can view as if they are in the medical facility where the sample was taken. The robotic microscope allows the pathologist to adjust the positioning, magnification, illumination, and focus as needed.
The pathologist views the microscope’s point of view from a screen at their remote location. From this, they can view the specimen with a high-resolution image.
One of the most significant benefits of the real-time pathology system is that the pathologist can manipulate the image in any way that they want. The photos aren’t pre-shot and sent to the pathologist. Instead, they can manipulate the quality and scope of the image to be the way they want it to be.
Finding Telepathology Professionals
Telepathology systems could be the answer to your medical facility’s pathology wants and needs. If you’re having trouble keeping up with patient demand and timing, telepathology will help. It is truly the next virtual healthcare trend.
If you’re looking for telepathology solutions, contact Specialist Direct today!