Because of COVID-19, the US FDA’s Center for Devices and Radiological Health provided a new policy framework to expand the availability of remote digital pathology devices.
Experts say the field of digital pathology will continue to grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 6.8% until 2028. Several factors are driving growth in the sector. Yet, before discussing those, it’s essential to discuss the digital pathology meaning.
Keep reading to learn more about this fascinating sector of healthcare.
What is Pathology?
First, let’s understand the pathology definition. Pathology is the science of the causes and effects of diseases. It deals with lab examination of body tissue for diagnostic or forensic purposes.
For example, if you’ve ever had a tissue biopsy, then you were seeing a pathologist.
Doctors and scientists who work in pathology are illness and disease experts. They bridge the gap between science and medicine.
Pathologists are part of every aspect of patient care. That includes diagnostic testing, treatment, and disease prevention. Besides, they play an essential role in research.
Their research helps find new medicines and treatments for diseases.
Pathologists also are essential in the advancement of new cutting-edge technologies. Doctors use these technologies for preventative measures and treatment.
The digital pathology meaning is similar, but it uses digitized glass slides. First, whole-slide image scanners digitize glass slide samples. Then doctors and scientists analyze the image viewer on a computer or mobile device.
Whole slide imaging (WSI) progressed in the last 20 years. In the beginning, pathologists attached a camera to the lens of a microscope. Then, scanners came about. Now, scanners are much more advanced.
They can scan slides in less than a minute, configure magnifications, and process hundreds of slides at a time. Plus, they use the cloud to store data. As a result, the process is affordable, secure, and accessible.
Patients receive a more accurate pathology report fast than ever before.
And, digital pathology isn’t just for glass slides. Pathologists can digitize any other relevant data they collect to help patients further.
Glass slides will always be necessary for pathology to collect tissue samples. But, digital pathology improves the quality of each sample. Higher quality leads to better views, improved analysis, and reduced errors.
Digital scanners allow pathologists to see a live feed. The camera can zoom in and show many angles. Also, pathologists can add annotations to the slides for others to view.
Viewing samples in real-time means pathologists can get many opinions at once. And anyone can view the data with the correct access.
Artificial intelligence (AI) deploys algorithms for analyzing slides. The algorithms are objective, accurate, and fast. This is great for patients. They receive better results in a shorter time.
Digital pathology reduces turnaround times. This is because pathologists have access to an extensive database of prior cases. So, it provides faster access to archived data.
In complex classes, pathologists improve reviews with many data sets. As a result, long-term predictive analytics is possible. Pathology doctors and scientists can use this information worldwide.
Also, digitized samples reduce breakage. Barcoding the samples minimizes the risk of misidentification and other human errors. It’s harder to contaminate samples using digital technology.
These benefits bring improvements for lab efficiency, workflow, and revenue. There is more collaboration. Authorized employees have easy access to streamline their work. And remote access is secure.
Digital Pathology Today
Several organizations already use digital pathology. They include:
- Large biopharmaceutical companies
- Clinical research organizations (CROs)
- Academic medical centers
Digital pathology streamlines the drug development processes. They can use this technology in the discovery, pre-clinical, and clinical trials phases.
It helps with creating a robust study design, data collection, and database management. Clinical labs already use digital pathology for remote consultations and quantitative analysis.
Plus, most clinical labs are moving to an all-digital workflow. They use AI to assign cases to pathologists. There is a dire need for more pathologists in the field. For now, digital technology is alleviating the shortage.
Pathologists integrate information into a Lab Information System (LIS) to treat patients remotely.
Soon, pathologists will use these digital methods for more quantitative analysis. Plus, it aids emerging companion diagnostics. There are many things they cannot see with the naked eye. Thus, digital pathology will help increase diagnostic results.
Furthermore, the field will proceed to use AI to develop pattern recognition. Thus, even better results occur.
Costs of digital pathology technology will continue to fall. And, more sectors of healthcare are digital practices, like radiology and MRI. This means doctors can integrate diagnostics and predictive decision-making.
Most importantly, digital pathology fuels innovation. Big data lets pathologists become more specialized. They can also cover broader geographies to help more people. And better tools are available for teaching.
Even with an exciting future, digital pathology has already changed education. In fact, the education sector was one of the first to adopt this technology. Traditional education often struggled to access viable slides and varied course content.
But using digital pathology, every participant sees the same content. Thus, standardization gives everyone the same learning opportunities. And it improves the quality of education.
It also makes education in pathology more accessible. This is especially true for people living in rural or underdeveloped regions. Students can view the curriculum and data from anywhere with just a standard web browser on a device.
Now You Know the Digital Pathology Meaning
By understanding the digital pathology meaning, you can grow your practice to include more telehealth services. Again, more collaboration between pathologists means patients receive better care.
If you’re interested in digital pathology solutions, reach out to us at Specialist Direct. Our telepathology professionals are ready to offer you a free consultation.