We live in a world powered by technology. It’s literally in every nook and cranny of what we do and say every day. No matter where you are, you’ve likely got a phone in your pocket and ongoing digital communication.
With technology always advancing, medical technology is no different. Pathologists are saving lives with a simple click of a button from all over the world.
Let’s talk about telepathology solutions and why they’re changing the medical industry. By forging the way for advanced medical practices in a digital world, telepathology is the future of medicine.
With technology so prevalent, it isn’t hard to guess that medical practices also rely on communication via the internet. Today, they use technology to get second opinions or even diagnoses. Telepathology provides the medical world with a digital upgrade.
So what is it, exactly? Telepathology is using telecommunications to review and diagnose diseases digitally. There are two main types of telepathology; virtual slide systems and real-time systems.
Virtual Slide systems refer to placing tissue samples between glass slides. The tissues are then frozen and sent to the pathologist via scanner systems for review and diagnosis. The glass slides keep the sample sterile and collected in one place.
This system allows for a long-distance review of samples by the world’s best pathologists. They can review and manipulate the slides at their fingertips as if they were there in person. This process was over 98% accurate for disease diagnosis.
A 98% success rate is flat out incredible. Which gives the patient the best care via telepathology solutions. The added benefit of the patient not having to wait weeks for results makes it even better.
This is the best situation for patients and their wellbeing. All the patient has to worry about is the current appointment and the results. No added pressure of wait time included!
Real-Time systems are specialty microscopes with added software (such as Augmentiqs). This software allows for the digital images to upload to an internet browser. From there, a consulting pathologist can view the images in real-time for diagnosis.
This means the in house pathologist can take digital images to display on the distant pathologists’ devices via the internet. It’s almost instantaneous and eliminates the need to mail samples. Once the consulting pathologist receives the images, they can manipulate and change the field of view to suit them as if it were right in front of them.
Their review is given instantly, leading to a faster turnaround for the patient. By receiving a diagnosis faster, the patient can undergo treatment quickly. This is a fascinating way that telepathology solutions are changing the medical industry.
These digital image solutions are paving the way for quicker diagnosis. Effective long-distance communication better serves the patient. The hospital doesn’t have to worry about the cost of staffing extra pathologists.
Not only that, but the patient doesn’t have to worry about after hours or holidays affecting the time it takes to receive results. That means these telepathology methods are the absolute best solutions for doctors and patients alike.
Telepathology has existed since the 1980s, first introduced by Dr. Ronald Weinstein. It has consistently changed the way the medical world thinks of technology. But what do pathologists need to use telepathology?
A reliable internet source, a microscope with the required software, a scanner system, and the information of the receiving pathologist are all that’s needed. Most hospitals will already have all these things.
That means, little to no cost upfront for telepathology. This is a drastic step for medical practices and is changing the time to diagnose a patient after the initial info is taken. We hope to assist the facilities that don’t have the means for telepathology by providing our services 24/7.
As this technology is used, it continues to advance. Imagine how telepathology will have improved medical practices in 10 years. The more someone uses something, the more they learn about it!
Telepathology is used for many other situations besides diagnosis. Sending an image to a colleague across the country for a second opinion could be the difference between life and death.
It also provides an easy way for medical students to review real-time tissues, x-rays, or scans. They can learn off-site from multitudes of pathologists around the world. This gives them the chance to speak to subspecialists with specific questions.
If a pathologist believes their sample could relate to another field, they can provide these digital images to that field of medicine for review. Regardless of pathology subtype, the images are sent with a simple click. This is just another way the patient receives top of the line care in the least amount of time.
One major point to consider is the difference telepathology has made regarding cancer treatment. Cancer affects most people in the world, either having had it themselves or known someone who did. Sadly, not every doctor’s office or hospital has access to in-person oncologists.
This is especially true for specialty oncology. By using telepathology, the patient’s scans can be sent to an oncologist thousands of miles away. The patient doesn’t have to wait or worry for weeks for results.
Telepathology For Other Countries
Speaking of cancer diagnosis, many underprivileged countries only have one pathologist for every one million people. This means that the few pathologists that are available within the country are most likely overbooked and scheduled for months (or years) in advance. So what does a potential cancer patient do in that situation?
Well, their regular physician can perform the needed testing and send that to a pathologist anywhere in the world. A pathologist in Canada can review the tests within a few hours for a patient in Africa. This is a huge milestone, leading to a quick turnaround on a diagnosis that can lead to a jumpstart on treatment.
In the past, a patient may not have been tested for any diseases at all because of the lack of pathologists in the country. This led to many undiagnosed patients with a serious disease. Since some diseases are contagious, outbreaks were more common than they should have been.
Since the advancement of telepathology, these outbreaks have been considerably diminished and much easier managed and contained than before. As we know, all it takes is for one tourist to come into contact with Ebola and then travel home!
When you go to the DMV, they ask if you’re an organ donor. In today’s world, more and more people are saying “yes”. While the organ donor number is steadily increasing, the transplant list is still large.
There are currently about 114,000 people on the organ transplant waiting list. They’re waiting for kidneys, livers, hearts, lungs, etc. As technology and the understanding of medical conditions improve, the need for transplants increases. As medical professionals study and research disease, they better understand the repercussions of an unhealthy organ in a sick patient’s body.
The individuals on the transplant list may be confined to a hospital bed, unable to move or live a normal life. But some may be living a seemingly normal life. Their closest friends and family are unaware of the severity of their health. What can telepathology do for these people?
Telepathology can help individuals waiting by scouring the country for donors who might be a successful match or even vice versa. For example, a car crash victim is an organ donor with a blood type A negative. Their family has let them succumb to their injuries but give life to those who need the organs. The doctor over this patient’s organ donation can use telepathology to send out information to potential matches all over the country.
Those potential matches will have their doctors and pathologists review the provided information digitally to determine if they are a contender for the organ. The reviewing pathologist can notify the donor’s doctor and the transferring process can begin. This is a process that is done in a matter of hours.
Prolonging the viability of the organ is obviously important, but reducing the grievances of the donor’s family is a huge importance. They don’t have the added stress of the extra time it would have taken 10 years ago.
As stated above, telepathology can provide medical students with real-life examples. The students can learn the entire process of this patient’s medical journey, allowing for real problems, consequences, and an ending that they cannot receive via curated situations.
Telepathology can also allow for pathologists to document and save patient’s information digitally. This can drastically reduce the amount of physical space that a medical record requires for storage.
Many hospitals or doctor’s offices have an entire room or even an entire floor dedicated to the storage of medical records. By saving images digitally, they only need to worry about the space a hard drive will need. Less than a shoebox worth of space!
For rarer pathological situations, these digital images can be reviewed for research for decades to come. A medical professional won’t have to flip through the pages of a book or skim through thousands of papers in files to find the situation they’re looking for. It is the telepathology solution for the present and the future!
Fine Needle Aspirations (FNA) and Telepathology
Fine Needle Aspirations, FNA, are the process of using a needle to obtain a cell sample from a lump or mass. This can also be referred to as a biopsy procedure.
In previous years, the patient would have this procedure performed and the samples would then be sent off. The patient would be told it may take a few days or a few weeks. Of course, that was depending on many factors including weather, time of year, holidays, the distance between the lab and the patient, etc.
This only amplified the patient’s anxiety about the whole situation. Causing unneeded stress on the body that could potentially already be fighting something major. Moving forward faster through technology has a huge impact on patient outcomes.
With Telepathology, the sample can be sent to the receiving pathologist within minutes. The results and diagnosis can be sent back before the patient even leaves the procedure room.
The faster a diagnosis is given, the faster treatment can be administered, and the more likely a patient will have positive results. Why would we want to do it any other way? Telepathology solutions are crucial in today’s medical practices.
Telepathology Solutions and Us
Specialist Direct is proud to say that we offer real-time digital pathology interpretations 24/7 all year round. Our team of U.S. board-certified specialists interprets telepathology information within 1 hour. With over 25 pathologists on board, we cover a vast variety of subspecialties including hematopathology, renal pathology, metabolic bone disease, and cytopathology among many others.
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Specialist Direct specializes in telepathology, teleradiology, and telecardiology to deliver the best possible solutions to the patients. Let us help you get the results you need in a more efficient time frame using the telepathology solutions that have paved the way for medical technology advancement.