I recently had the pleasure of giving a presentation titled “Making Money from Digital Pathology: 5 Tips for Financial Success” at the inaugral Pathology Institute Conference in Fort Lauderdale, FL. Over 150 private laboratory leaders and executives attended the meeting to learn about and discuss current trends in Pathology and to identify business strategies for success. Digital pathology was mentioned several times during the conference and was a hot topic for discussion during breaks.
At the start of my presentation I asked the audience,
How many of you have a digital pathology scanner in your lab?
Approximately 10-15% of the audience raised their hands. I believe this accurately reflects an estimation of how many private and reference labs in the US use digital pathology today. It also appears that the majority of the 10-15% were from larger laboratories, with more than 10 Pathologists. Small and mid-sized practices have not yet started to adopt digital pathology, which leaves a tremendous opportunity for education and growth on how digital pathology can help private laboratories.
As promised in my last post, here is my first of five Tips for Financial Success.
Tip 1: You must understand what digital pathology REALLY is!
Digital pathology is often perceived as only the scanner; the hardware system that transforms a glass slide into a whole slide image. If this were the case financial success could never be achieved with digital pathology. The scanner is simply a piece of the digital pathology puzzle; the complete picture is much, much larger. Digital pathology has downstream and upstream affects on the histology lab and pathology workflow that creates an opportunity for financial benefits.
As illustrated above other pieces of the digital pathology puzzle include:
- Create a plan
- Analyze histology workflow and the quality of tissue preperation
- Evaluate opportunities to enable advanced laboratory technology to automate and increase throughput on tissue preparation Examples include: barcodes, high throughput tissue processors, staining technology, etc.
- Good quality slides = good quality whole slide images
- Evaluate your IT infrastructure (i.e. servers, bandwidth) and information systems (LIS, EMRs, PACS, etc)
- Consider the experience of the pathologist. Streamline their workflow and create a good environment to introduce digital case review.
Digital pathology as defined by the Digital Pathology Association is,
A dynamic, image-based environment that enables the acquisition, management and interpretation of pathology information generated from a digitized glass slide.
If you expand your scope of what digital pathology really is numerous opportunities will present itself for your financial success. Stay tuned for Tip 2: Identify Competitive Advantages later this week.