1. Efficient, Quick, Reliable Clinical Operations
In the clinical space, hospitals can streamline and automate the processes that typically take place between the digitization of the tissue sample and the delivery of a diagnosis, improving overall speed and reliability. Sample scanning and queuing, case generation, annotation, sharing, and storage become a part of a well-managed workflow, decreasing time spent by pathologists and technicians on the laborious case management processes. A well-designed digital solution also provides increased security and accessibility, secure file-sharing and storage through medical record/LIS integration, automatic backups, and decreased chance of file-loss. According to a study published in the Journal of Pathology Informatics, productivity improvements estimated at the rate of 13% translated into an approximate increase of 1.5 cases per workday for pathologists using a digital pathology system.
2. Cost Effectiveness
In a 2014 study, the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center estimated that a digital pathology solution saved that hospital approximately $18 million over five years. Digital Solutions enable multiple avenues for cost efficiency, the most notable of which are increased productivity, improved patient outcome, reduced costs of incorrect treatment, and a decrease in organizational capital expenditures. The installment of a full digital pathology system can save up to $12.4 million for an institution with 219,000 annual cases over a five year period.
3. Global Access
Digital pathology ensures access to stored images anywhere at any time. This includes engagement in effective collaboration with a coworker in the same building, a colleague at another institution, or even a pathologist across the world with secure and compliant case sharing. The ubiquity of access grants individual pathologists the flexibility to decide where and when they do their work and provides an opportunity for insource-outsource collaborative partnerships and a facilitated second opinion process. Offering consultation services can grant access to markets like China, the industry’s most opportune segment, with market potential estimated to be around $1.3 million. Institutions such as The Johns Hopkins Hospital have reported consultation caseloads of about 80,000 per year. The number of these consultations is expected to go up both within and between institutions, as the trend of consolidation of medical services continues.
4. Industry Trends
The healthcare system is clearly shifting toward digital solutions as exemplified by transitions in areas such as radiology and the adoption of Electronic Health Records across the space. With 33 different companies worldwide providing digital pathology services, the prevalence of digital pathology systems will continue to increase as cost and time effectiveness are continuously improved. Recently valued at about $2 billion (2012), the digital pathology industry is predicted to increase as adoption rates climb to a $5.7 billion valuation in 2020. This trend is also supported by the general movement of hospitals towards practices that improve meaningful use, as put forward by the Center for Medicare and Medicaid services.