Dr. Bruce Friedman @ Lab Soft News has had a couple of interesting posts and recent comments on the digital pathology space from his perspective as a longtime pathology informaticist and observations on digital pathology in early 2014:
This is a guest blog by Nial Toner of PathXL, a vendor of cloud-based digital pathology systems. I asked him to discuss the benefits of cloud computing in digital pathology and barriers to its deployment. There will be some emphasis placed on digital pathology at the upcoming Pathology Informatics Summit 2014 (see: Digital Pathology Well Represented at Pathology Informatics Summit 2014)–BAF
In digital pathology, cloud computing can help to deliver cost effective healthcare and also help to manage the growing amount of data that is generated by the technology. Cloud computing provides many benefits but also some drawbacks. The benefits of cloud computing in digital pathology are the following:
- Cloud computing makes data and images accessible anywhere in the world. For pathologists this brings the benefit of working from any location. Furthermore, pathologists can collaborate on a global scale, enabling them to share images and annotations to get a second opinion instantly, allowing for faster diagnosis
- Some digital pathology software companies host their products entirely in the cloud (SAAS). Customers who use such software benefit from having access to the most up-to-date versions of it without having to upgrade or install it manually. In addition time and money are saved because the data is stored in a secure external hub.
- Cloud computing provides a central repository, holding all virtual slides and data that can be easily accessed and viewed by any authorized person.
At the time that this note is being posted, a total of 24 vendors have signed up as exhibitors for the Pathology Informatics Summit 2014 that will held in Pittsburgh on May 13-16, 2014. Here are the names of the companies grouped by their level of participation: Cerner, Hamamatsu, Leica, Ventana, SCC Soft Computer, and Sunquest at the platinum level, GenomOncology at the gold level; and 3DHISTECH, ASCP, Atlas Medical, Apollo PACS, ARUP, CAP, Cortex, General Data, Indica Labs, Lifepoint Informatics, McKesson, Orchard Software, PathXL, Sakura VisionTek, Visiopharm, Voicebrook, and Xifin at the silver level. There will undoubtedly be more by the time of the conference.
What I find interesting is that nine of these 24 vendors are primarily focused on digital pathology, nearly 40% of the total. Half of the platinum vendors fall into this category. I have been pessimistic in recent months about the lack of progress in digital pathology by which I mean failure of most pathologists to deploy the technology. The regulatory aspects of the field have been cloudy at best with FDA approval currently lacking for primary diagnosis. I don’t want to get embroiled in a discussion about the root causes of this regulatory problem. Only understand that this has been an impediment to adoption of the technology.
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