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The Benefits of Digital Pathology

Digital pathology includes the acquisition, management, dissemination, and interpretation of pathology data, including data and slides. Glass slides become digital slides when they are scanned using a scanning device, to produce high-resolution digital images that may be viewed on a computer or mobile device.

A whole glass slide can be captured using high-throughput, automated digital pathology scanners in fluorescent or bright field lighting at a magnification similar to a microscope. Digitized slides can be distributed over networks utilizing specialist digital pathology software tools. The interpretation and quantification of biomarker expression in tissue sections can also be aided by automated image analysis methods.

Digital pathology has a history of over 100 years, starting with the invention of specialized tools to record pictures from the microscope onto photographic plates. Telepathology, or the transmission of microscope images between distant places, has been around for close to 50 years. However, it has only been in the last ten years that pathology has started to transition from an analog to an electronic setting.

The rapid development of whole slide imaging (WSI) technology has made it possible to fully integrate digital pathology into pathology workflows, as have improvements in software applications, LIS/LIMS interface, and high-speed networking.

Pathologists may engage, assess, and cooperate quickly, remotely, transparently, and consistently thanks to digital pathology, which boosts productivity and efficiency. In the long run, computer-assisted diagnosis (CAD), personalized care, and improved translational research may all be a part of the future of digital pathology.

What are the Benefits of Digital Pathology?

Glass slides are here to stay for good reason. Pathology begins with a tissue sample. Even if the glass slides are later converted to a digital image, they still need to be made. However, modern pathology goes beyond scans or tissue. It’s all about boosting quality, productivity, and other factors.

Take a look at how pathology is evolving today:

Pathologists are in limited supply, with more of them retiring than are entering the field. As more people use digital technologies, quality and innovation have improved.

Modern pathology requires new methods. Pathologists lose out on advantages that cannot be attained with glass slides when they do not adopt digital pathology. There are benefits of digital pathology that are difficult to obtain with glass slides only. Check out the various benefits of digital pathology over traditional microscopy.

Digital pathology can improve quality in meaningful ways:

Improved Analysis:

  • Algorithms for analyzing slides are objective, more accurate, and faster than microscopy
  • Quick access to prior cases
  • Data Storage enables long-term predictive analytics

Reduced Errors:

  • Eliminates breakage
  • Barcoding reduces the risk of misidentification

Better Views:

  • Offers live zoomed and numerous angle views
  • Ability to measure different AOI
  • Allows for team annotation of slides
  • Shows a dashboard view of data and annotations

One of the greatest benefits of digital pathology is the many ways it improves productivity in the short and long term:

Improved Workflow

  • Promotes collaboration
  • Central storage enables easy access to streamlined workflow
  • Curbs trend toward outsourcing
  • Allows for automation, flex work schedules, and remote access

Reduced Turnaround Times:

  • Quicker access to archived digital slides
  • Less time retrieving, data matching, and organizing
  • Speeds up access to samples and improves turnaround time compared to manual reviews, especially in complex cases

More Innovation:

  • Big data allows pathologists to become more specialized
  • Allows practices to extend to broader geographies
  • Provides better tools for teaching and training

“Glass slides work fine” is another way of saying that pathologists can’t justify the investment in digital solutions.

However, they often don’t consider some of the long-term cost benefits of digitalization, including:

  • No need for a courier service
  • Faster workflow
  • Less travel for peer reviews
  • New business opportunities by being able to geographically extend the practice
  • No need for overtime

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