More Than Image Management: What to Look For in a Digital Pathology Software Platform

Jesse Eichhorn
By Jesse Eichhorn | February 8, 2022

When you think about your laboratory’s digital future, do you envision more than viewing and managing whole slide images? You probably also see new opportunities, like streamlining the way your team collaborates, broadening your access to expertise – and even leveraging the latest AI to drive your lab forward. For many labs, the time is now to turn these visions into reality.

Regardless of whether you are well on your way to  full digitization – or are just getting started – the success of your transformation effort ultimately hinges on choosing the right digital pathology platform.

What is a digital pathology platform? 

It is the next evolution of the image management system (IMS), serving as the primary technology powering the modern pathology laboratory. Beyond an excellent image viewer and management experience, a true digital pathology platform will:

  • Serve as a primary point of interaction for pathologists, powering their data-to-day work
  • Be the primary connection point for images coming from scanners, data from the LIS, and analyses from any computational applications (both image analysis and AI) your lab adopts – today or in the future
  • Offer the flexibility to effectively integrate with legacy systems and new digital applications with minimal disruption. 
  • A pathologist-centric experience to help pathologists work more effectively

Here are 5 key considerations to keep in mind to help you make the right digital pathology platform investment for your organization:

Scalability

While your initial digital implementation may only focus on a few use cases, you’ll likely soon expand your operations to drive even more value. This means that your platform must deliver the enterprise-grade scalability and performance needed to accommodate growing volumes of images, multiple locations, and bigger teams – or else it will limit the potential of your digitization effort.

System Openness & Interoperability

From scanners to laboratory information systems (LIS) and image analysis applications, your platform will be surrounded by an ecosystem of hardware and software solutions that each play a key role in the workflow. It should be grounded on an open approach, centralizing data from these various sources through best-of-breed interoperability. Otherwise, your pathologists will waste time toggling among screens, potentially  overlooking important details. An open platform is future-proof and will enable you to seamlessly incorporate new solutions as your requirements evolve.  

Pathologist-Centric Experience

Your pathologists will spend hours each day using your platform to perform critical tasks. It goes without saying, therefore, that the platform should be purpose-built to help them achieve what matters to them most: delivering high-quality analyses, working efficiently, and optimizing work-life balance. Features like an intuitive, ergonomic viewing experience, workload and case management, and streamlined access to consultation and collaboration pathways will be important considerations. 

AI Readiness

The era of AI-enabled pathology is here as demonstrated by a growing body of evidence and deployments at leading laboratories, and your laboratory is likely eager to realize the benefits. Keeping in mind that AI applications in pathology often address very narrow use cases and must be incorporated into routine operations to make an impact, you’ll want a platform that introduces a broad portfolio of applications from a variety of companies directly into the routine workflow. Many platforms limit the AI solutions that you can leverage, so you’ll want to do your homework before choosing a platform.

Security

Stringent security is an absolute necessity given that your team will be handling sensitive patient information. While your IT team will likely have specific policies in place to guide your selection, you’ll be well served to look for a platform that includes comprehensive end-to-end encryption of data in transit and at rest and supports compliance with HIPAA and GDPR regulations.

Of course, these considerations are just the starting point when it comes to choosing your digital pathology platform. For a deeper dive into each of these, along with guidance on selecting the rest of your digital pathology ecosystem including scanners and monitors, I encourage you to read Proscia’s Digital Transformation Playbook: A Guide to Whole Slide Imaging System Selection.

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