Pathology: the last digital frontier of biomedical imaging

| November 4, 2013

Digital pathology is transforming the pathology business. Clinical laboratories of any size can expand their professional services beyond geographic boundaries by using digital technologies which bring unique advantages to the specialty of pathology.

Pathologists do not have to see their patients in person. Patients are represented by a set of microscopy slides, and if these slides are digital, pathologists can serve patients anywhere in the world. This opens up enormous opportunities to American pathologists to provide services to countries with shortages of pathologists. (In some emerging countries, there is only one pathologist for 200,000 people!) The ability to provide remote services and diagnostics globally is becoming essential for clinicians and pathologists.

Digital pathology makes the pathology business global, but it also changes the traditional workflow of a pathology lab. Unlike physical samples, incoming digital cases are not accessioned into a traditional Laboratory Information System (LIS); instead, they come to a digital workspace via the Internet from a variety of sources and locations. That means that pathologists are losing access to the reporting function in LIS. They have to create reports manually, which can lead to inefficiencies and inferior reports. However, in the digital world pathologists can complete case information and create professional reports from their workspace, a secure and easily accessible place such as a computer or a server that stores medical digital images.

The key is collaboration: the sharing of medical images and data among businesses around the world. Globalization and global changes in the pathology world can be beneficial for both healthcare professionals and their patients. One recent example of international collaboration involved a cancer case at the Ural Oncology Center in Yekaterinburg, Russia. In a seven-day period, five doctors from five cities in the United States and Canada worked on the case, which included the analysis of 11 histological slides and contained 12 gigabytes of medical images. The specialists used a digital pathology-cloud technology system over the Internet, shared the information within the system, and never left their offices. The final report was generated with four possible diagnoses.

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Source: Medical Laboratory Observer by Vitali Khvatkov and Evgenia Harris.

 Vitali Khvatkov is CEO and founder of Houston, TX-based Smart Imaging Technologies. Evgenia Harris, MBA, serves as market analyst for Smart Imaging Technologies.

 Evgenia Harris, MBA, serves as market analyst for Smart Imaging Technologies.

References

  1. AT & T. Medical imaging in the cloud. Accessed September 26, 2013.
  2. Healthcare Info Security. HITECH disclosures rule proposed: guidelines for revealing who accesses patient data. Accessed September 26, 2013.
  3. HealthIT.gov. Certification and EHR incentives: HITECH Act. Accessed September 24, 2013.

 

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Category: Advocacy, Anatomic Pathology, Clinical Laboratories, Current Affairs, Digital Pathology News, General Healthcare News, Informatics, International, Laboratory Management & Operations, Pathology News, TeleHealth

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