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While the adage “If it’s not broken, don’t fix it” has merit, there are definitely reasons why going digital may be worth the effort. Here is a list of some items you should consider before dismissing digital pathology for your practice, no matter how well your current setup works.

  1. Efficient Workflow

Digital pathology yields multiple efficiency gains. For starters, going digital can streamline workflows by reducing the time in the laboratory spent sorting and resorting specimens to keep cases together. It also reduces time spent filling trays and distributing them to pathologists. If there is remote slide transportation, digital pathology allows for immediate access to pathology images anywhere on the globe. 

AI-based algorithms are proliferating and can help with both speed and quality by finding “needles in haystacks,” helping ensure negative biopsies are tumor-free, automatically grading malignancies, and improving quantification of measurements and counts. 

Other new innovations include software (such as Lumea’s Viewer+™ feature DxAlign™) that enables pathologists to view multiple levels and stains of the same tissue simultaneously and in real time. *Note: DxAlign is currently limited to small tissue types when used with the Lumea BxChip®, CytoRing®, or BxTag®.

  1. Improved Collaboration

Because digitized slides can be shared instantaneously with anyone with internet access, getting consultations from colleagues and experts anywhere is fast and easy, lowering the barrier to getting and providing help.

  1. Remote Diagnosis

Many healthcare systems are decentralized, and pathologists frequently need to cover large regions. With digital pathology, pathologists can be more available more often, save commuting time, and minimize slide distribution costs. Further, it enables contemplation of lab consolidation, saving money and allowing for economies of scale. 

  1. Enhanced Education and Training

Tumor Boards, training sessions, and digital libraries all benefit from digital pathology. Resources can be created and curated without having to organize photomicrographs. Further, unlike photomicrographs, digital slides are not limited to the sites and magnifications chosen at the time.

  1. Archiving and Retrieval

Digital pathology systems offer robust archiving capabilities, making it easier and faster to store, retrieve, and manage large volumes of pathology images and associated data long term.

  1. Integrated Health Information Systems

Digital pathology can integrate with your institution’s healthcare information systems, leading to a more comprehensive patient record. This integration can improve overall patient care and provide a holistic view of a patient’s medical history.

  1. Remote Access During Emergencies

In situations such as public health emergencies or natural disasters, digital pathology allows pathologists to access critical information remotely, ensuring continuity of services. This capability was particularly relevant during the recent COVID-19 pandemic.

  1. Research Opportunities

Digital pathology can support research initiatives by providing a platform for data sharing, collaboration, and analysis. Much of the newest research involves algorithms that correlate morphologic findings seen on digital imagers to genomic alterations that may affect prognosis or therapeutic response. 

  1. Providing Information Otherwise Unavailable to Clinicians and Patients

Some digital tools can improve treatment decision-making and patient understanding by providing visual representations of pathology findings. For example, Lumea’s proprietary tech can enable maintenance of orientation and precise site mapping of malignant involvement of each prostate core on reports simply by having the pathologist circle the areas of involvement. These annotations also allow for accurate and automatic quantification of length and percentage of involvement. Knowing the distribution of carcinoma within and between cores helps clinicians determine the best course of action while providing a visual representation to share with patients. Providing the most current and instructive information is good for patients as well as for the reputation of your practice.

  1. Future-Proofing

Embracing digital pathology positions your practice for future advancements in healthcare technology. It ensures compatibility with evolving standards and facilitates easier integration with emerging technologies.

Keep in mind that you will only get a good digital experience if you select a good quality provider, so if you decide to go digital you will want to ensure that your selection will meet your needs. Seek the advice and opinions of colleagues and avoid common pitfalls and mistakes.

Conducting a comprehensive analysis, including a cost-benefit assessment, can provide a clearer understanding of how suitable the implementation of digital pathology may be for your institution.

Don’t know where to start? Get a free copy of our Digital Pathologists’ Playbook™ today that can help walk you through digital pathology implementation.

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