When I received my copy of MLO Medical Laboratory Observer this past week it reminded me there were a few articles of interest last month in the journal. Both provide value propositions for digital pathology with use cases illustrated by Dr. Schwartz of Aperio.
By Karen Lynn
The first focus of digital pathology was to automate the microscope. “The ultimate goal was to begin the migration from a physical slide to a digital image and ensure users’ comfort during the transition,” says Jason Christiansen, PhD, senior director of Operations at HistoRx. In its earlier days, image-analysis applications were produced but limited to existing testing paradigms which had less impact than the leap to slide digitization. Fast-forward five years. Today, image quality is virtually identical to viewing a glass slide under the microscope. In fact, pathologists are willing to make diagnoses based on an image versus actual glass.
Viewing slides digitally gives numerous advantages that glass slides do not provide; for example, tumors and areas suspicious for disease can be measured more precisely; images can be manipulated and utilized for consultation and teaching purposes; images can be viewed by more than 100 people simultaneously from anywhere in the world; and automated, quantifying algorithms for estrogen receptors, progesterone receptors, and HER2 have since been developed and FDA-cleared, reports Joon Yim, MD, director of digital pathology at Acupath Laboratories. In addition, digital pathology supports rapid-assessment turnaround time for frozen sections which are critical to surgical protocols, and those slides can be digitally imaged and stored in a central repository.
By Jared Schwartz, MD, PhD
Advances in digital-pathology systems, including rapid slide creation, data management, and image-visualization techniques are transforming the practice of pathology. A powerful tool in anatomic pathology, advancements in digital pathology continue to enhance efficiency and accuracy, resulting in lower costs, significant workflow efficiencies, and improved patient care.
Digital slides are a complete representation of the entire glass slide, viewable on a computer monitor at any magnification. Web-based pathology picture archiving and communication system, familiarly known as PACS, allow pathologists to work remotely anytime, anywhere, to deliver accurate results faster than traditional methods.
As digital pathology becomes more accessible for the average lab, the ability to work digitally provides opportunities to offer new services and tests, attract new customers, and create new business lines. Implementing an outreach business enabled by digital pathology is an emerging strategy that is helping many labs maintain market share and increase growth and profitability.