This is the second in a series of CEO short interviews about their views on their company, the digital pathology market, lessons learned and perhaps a little insight into their business principles. My personal thanks to Mr. Myles and the Huron Digital Pathology team for their time and efforts to provide this interview.
What is your vision for your company?
Our vision is to make digital pathology a universal reality.
In what ways is the digital pathology market similar to other industries you have worked in?
There are some really interesting similarities between digital pathology and digital cinematography, an area I was involved in for several years. What’s occurring in pathology today is analogous to what occurred in cinematography 10 years ago.
First, consider their histories. Both have strongly embedded conventional practices, yet have continually embraced innovation. For example, both fields benefited greatly from the incredible technical advances in the fields of chemistry and optics in the past century.
In the mid-2000’s, cinematographers had an incredible amount of choice in the tools they could use to practice their craft. There were numerous digital cameras to choose from, and at the end of the day if the cinematographer didn’t like them he could always shoot with film. Today’s pathology professionals have a similar wealth of options, both digital and traditional. Whether pathology goes the route of cinematography – even film-only holdouts like Martin Scorsese have abandoned celluloid – is yet to be seen. In the meantime, the pathologist, the lab manager, and the informatics expert are clearly in the driver’s seat. As always, the customer is right.
Finally, there’s the flood of data to manage. Today, it’s no big deal to shoot video in 4K resolution (there are already a dozen cell phones on the market that can do that). 10 years ago, different story. Happily, digital workflows improved, and today shooting movies in 4K is common place (in fact, a necessity for archival purposes). I suspect pathology will go through similar growing pains on the road to a digital workflow and that over time skepticism will translate to adoption.
What does the digital pathology market look like in 2016?
Digital workflows and their benefits will be become better (and more broadly) understood, bringing more users into the digital camp. We expect to see a lot of that adoption continuing to be in the research area, which is an important, and lower risk, proving ground for the technology.
I expect we will see a lot of new investment in the digital pathology space in 2016, both through existing companies and new entrants. This should translate into more choice for users and a maturing of solutions, which will further drive adoption.
What challenges remain for digital pathology adoption?
Regulatory aspects aside, I see three main barriers to adoption. First is the business case. How does using digital pathology tools improve patient outcomes or accelerate research – simply put, we need to answer how does it make life better?
Second is affordability. This is closely related to the business case, but more specifically it will dictate just how universal digital pathology will become.
Finally, there’s ease of use. Apple has taught us a lot about simplicity, where less is actually more. Digital pathology tools need to become so simple to use that you hardly know you are using them. The industry will get there.
How would you describe the culture in your company and has it changed over the past (five) years?
Having been with Huron for a little over a year, it’s difficult for me to comment on the before and after. What I can say is that we have a very focused team. The industry knows us a company that has a flexible and open platform – we are seen as innovative. We really embrace that niche and look for ways to play to that strength and add even more value to our customers.
How would you describe yourself in one word?
What is one thing few, if any, know about you?
When I was 12 years old, my brother Jeff and I spent the summer selling special edition newspapers to theatre-goers outside the Stratford Shakespearean Festival in Stratford, Ontario. One Sunday, I sold a newspaper to a gentleman who was walking near the theatre. The next morning at home, my mother pointed out a photo of Dustin Hoffman on the cover of the local paper (he had been in town over the weekend). I said “hey, I sold that guy a newspaper!” Of course, I didn’t really know who Dustin Hoffman was at time, but a great memory nonetheless.
What is the most important part of the sandwich?
The most important part of sandwich is who makes it. Not sure why, but a sandwich always tastes better when someone else makes it for you.
What book(s) have you read recently?
I am currently reading the autobiography “Life” by Keith Richards.
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