Digital Pathology To Enable Better Diagnosis Of Diseases, Eventually Better Healthcare

by Satish K. Sanan Chairman & CEO and Mark Lloyd, Executive Vice President & Founder, Inspirata - Satish K. Sanan Chairman & CEO and Mark Lloyd, Executive Vice President & Founder, Inspirata, Inspirata

Inspirata optimizes the pathology workflow in healthcare organizations by providing end-to-end digital pathology services, tools and information to enable pathologists to quickly and accurately diagnose disease.

Cancers figure among the leading causes of morbidity and mortality worldwide. About 14.1 million adults in the world were diagnosed with cancer in 2012 out of which 8.2 million died of the same. In India, out of the 1.8 million people living with cancer in 2012, about 683,000 deaths due to cancer were registered. Furthermore, the number of new cases is expected to rise by about 70 percent over the next two decades. The implication this bears is that either more doctors whose job is to diagnose cancer by examining patient tissue samples under a microscope (i.e., pathologists) are needed, or that the current pathologists must be better equipped with technologies and automation that facilitate more rapid and accurate detection, diagnosis, prognosis and treatment options.

The rise in the number of cancer cases has led to discordance in the ratio of patients to that of the pathologists. With increasing complexities of cancer cases today, there’s intricate mix of therapies available, which means pathologists need pathology data that could enable them to target the right therapy on the right patient at the right time without being ambiguous. The concept of Digital Pathology is a ‘Solution-as-a-Service,’ which empowers pathologists by accelerating the rate of diagnosis, increasing diagnostic accuracy and by providing therapeutic recommendations needed to improve patient outcomes.

Adoption of end-to-end Digital Pathology solutions

Digital pathology operates on a “Go-fetch” mechanism which not only automates the diagnosis but also holds the information needed to interpret a case. The actual physicality of the pathologist viewing the glass slides or microscopes is a work which can be made more efficient by computation and the interpretation of the images to the pathologists. Inspirata’s Digital Pathology Workflow Solution offers an end-to-end scan of pathology glass slides, making the digital images available for high-resolution viewing and sharing anywhere across the world. The pathology cockpit has advanced computational image analytics algorithms called Companion Diagnostics that pre-screen and highlight suspicious cells on the digital images of glass pathology slides, helping pathologists in diagnosing a cancer case more easily.

The heart of the matter is you have the whole thing scanned on a slide and there are algorithms that compute on these digital slides and allow to create new information that you just can’t get any other way. So it’s the algorithmic image analysis that would be embedded in the digital pathology environment. Once you get the data in a digital pathology environment you can create a Computational Diagnostics Support Systems (CDSS) and with a proper data base behind them this would allow a pathologist to make key decision.

Minimizing the Patient-Pathologist Disparity

Pathology is a highly qualitative process which demands extensively efficient results. The ability to bring digital pathological slides to table is a very innovative technology which would democratize the ability of diagnostics to the world. Considering the fact that pathologists have more cases to handle, speed and accuracy play a crucial role. Therefore, digital pathology helps minimize this disparity between the patient-pathologist ratios and brings efficiency to the process.

 

The advantages of Digital Pathology are not just limited to enhanced speed and accurate results but it also allows pathologists to present their expertise over a distance. This means the ability of diagnosis may be limited but the ability of the pathologist to project his knowledge to the four corners of the earth is really enabled through digital pathology. The diagnostic algorithms are at the leading edge of cancer research and they are expected to transform how cancer patients are treated throughout the world. For example, the total time for cancer detection and diagnosis in a patient is 12-13 days which with the help of digitalized pathology will be reduced to two to three days. Furthermore, patients will have more rapid and affordable access to second opinions and consultations from a worldwide pool of pathologists who specialize in specific forms of cancer.

While the potential benefits of Digital Pathology are convincing, there are still queries and concerns about the technology which poses barriers to the adoption of Whole Slide Imaging (WSI). The elimination of these technical concerns and regulatory barriers are still advancing but the current progress in digital technology has already proved to be a boon transforming healthcare and the future delivery of pathology services thus enabling stakeholders to reap the many potential benefits that it has to offer.