An Interview with Puneet Sarin, Vice President, Pathology Imaging Business at Leica Biosystems

| March 22, 2016

sarinQ: What is digital pathology and its inherent value?

Simply put, digital pathology is the practice of converting microscopic glass slides into images that can be viewed, managed and analyzed anywhere on the screen. More broadly, digital pathology creates an environment for storing, archiving and integrating the information.

If you look at the industry, there is a shortage of pathologists worldwide. This deficiency is driving the need for more sharing and collaborative reviews. Digital pathology offers two main capabilities, which you would not see looking at a glass slide under a microscope:

1) Secondary reviews—it improves the quality and the efficiency of pathology services by getting the correct glass slides to the right pathologist at the right time, eliminating the need to ship glass slides from one location to another; 2) Consolidated information—as pathology gets more specialized and the complexity increases, there is a need to combine the information from multiple modalities; forming a digital cockpit—as you see in the radiology or cardiology space.

Digital pathology provides the means to view the digital slides remotely, and to analyze the information in a complete setting. To me, digital pathology is going to redefine how pathology is practiced, and the role of the pathologist moving forward. In fact, Dr. Mohamed Salama, who serves on the College of American Pathologists’ (CAP) committee for digital imaging, as well as the Aperio advisory board, recently stated in a CAP Today article that he sees digital pathology “increasingly transforming pathology from a qualitative science into a quantitative one.”

Q: What are some of the benefits of digital pathology?

If I look at the healthcare system more broadly, there are three key constituents and associated benefits:

Patients: Behind every glass slide there is a patient and their family anxiously awaiting an answer: is it cancer? The use of digital pathology could help facilitate accurate and timely information while also reducing the turnaround time for outcomes, enabling better patient care. The digitized tools give patients more control of their reports and information—making patients more engaged and educated as part of the process.

Practitioner: If you think about it from the practitioner/healthcare provider perspective, digital pathology facilitates the sharing of the images and the collaboration between pathologists. Inherently, pathology is consultative by nature and digital pathology facilitates removing those geographical barriers—be it between multiple sites in an institution, different practice groups or even internationally. From the care provider standpoint, the use of digital pathology can improve the workflow by eliminating the need to ship the glass slides. Facilitating more interdisciplinary conferencesand improve the productivity of the pathologist.

Payer: And then you come to the payer standpoint. With the advent of digital tools and algorithms, the thinking is that pathology is going to be practiced in a very information-rich environment. The use of these digital tools can enable the pathologist with a cockpit-type view that can integrate the disparate sources of information and facilitate better clinical outcomes. This process may lead to less numbers of misdiagnosis; bringing the overall cost of the healthcare system down.

In a nutshell, there is a key value and benefit to the patient (i.e., turnaround time), the pathology community (i.e., productivity, which drives better concordance), and to the payer (i.e., reducing the overall cost of healthcare).

Q: How do you think Aperio Digital Pathology can help the C-Suite achieve immediate impact?

In talking to our customers, what’s top of mind for every C-level suite executive is seeking to differentiate themselves in the quality and types of services they offer to their customers, which are the patients. CEOs are looking at patient satisfaction scores to understand how responsive they are to their customers’ needs. They are looking at case turnaround time as an example—what sets them apart?

When it comes to patient satisfaction, we are aligned with the CEO’s turnaround time and driving better outcomes. With the full portfolio of Aperio ePathology solutions, we strive for 24-hour turnaround. To fulfill such a vision, we have software solutions like Aperio eSlide Manager and Aperio ePathAccess that facilitate sharing these images whether it is within the hospital network or across geographies to provide quick turnaround. With our increased investment in areas like image analysis, we will serve the industry problems such as throughput and concordance in the anatomical pathology space through automated platforms.

Q: Where can our audience find more information about Aperio Digital Pathology? 

Part II in this series will focus on digital pathology implementation from a practical perspective. The benefits of digital pathology to the CIO will also be examined. In the meantime, you can go to LeicaBiosystems.com/Insight for more information and to view our Aperio Advantage video.

Courtesy of Leica Biosystems

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