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Why hasn’t digital pathology really taken hold, and will it ever be viable for routine work? 

Every pathologist knows we’re supposed to be entering the age of digital pathology, yet the dream of a futuristic next-gen sign out has not matched reality, it seems. Richard Lash, MD, discusses the evolution of digital pathology to date and addresses these issues with Dr. Joseph Anderson on the podcast Digital Pathology Today.

What is preventing most of us from adopting digital pathology?

It’s no secret that digital pathology has to date failed to live up to its promise — it’s expensive, and the benefits don’t seem to outweigh the costs, both in time and money. Other than being able to get consults more easily and avoid the shipping of slides, there hasn’t been a clear value proposition for the vast majority of pathologists. On top of that, we have to decide on a variety of componentry that may or may not be compatible with each other or future-proof, not to mention the cumbersome digital “cockpit” that is costly, has a large footprint, and tethers pathologists to a single location. What was supposed to simplify the pathology process has only made it more expensive and difficult. 

Is there still hope for digital pathology?

Lash decided to join Lumea when he saw that they had technology that started upstream at the point of tissue acquisition so that the digital environment could be leveraged in ways that he had never seen before. Lumea understands that digital pathology only works if there is significant and tangible benefit from incurring the cost and time to scan slides. Their approach is from a device and software perspective, making it truly unique. Some features include:  

  • A fully integrated LIS, slide manager, viewer, storage, and RFID tracking/filing system starting with the patient
  • A variety of proprietary tissue handling devices and technology that preserve tissue integrity and orientation, allowing for enhanced reporting and dramatically save lab costs, more than paying for the digital process
  • AI-based automated grossing for many biopsies
  • Devices that automated annotation-based diagnosis/report generation
  • A fully integrated third-party AI algorithm marketplace
  • Everything can be done on a single device, even a tablet, with streamlined sign-out right from the viewer
  • Pay-as-you-go (SaaS) means you can “dip your toes” into digital pathology with minimal risk and cost. 

Future of digital pathology

The future of digital pathology relies on its viability. With Lumea, the dream of digital is here, and new innovations are constantly being developed. While diagnostic and prognostic AI will certainly play an increasing role over time, the opportunity to standardize and improve workflow while reducing the possibility of error throughout the process is achievable today.

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