What is Digital pathology?

Digital Pathology reporting remotely
Digital pathology is a revolutionary approach to analyzing and managing pathology slides. By means of Digital Pathology, pathologists can access and analyze images remotely, enhancing collaboration and efficiency. This blog post aims to provide a comprehensive overview of digital pathology, including its benefits, required equipment, and essential factors to consider when choosing a digital pathology partner. Whether you are a pathologist, a pathology researcher, or in charge of a pathology project, this post is aimed to equip you with the knowledge to make informed decisions and embark on your digital pathology journey.

Introduction to Digital Pathology:

Traditionally, pathologists have relied on physical slides, which are analyzed under a microscope. However, with the advent of digital technology, a new approach, digital pathology has emerged, offering numerous advantages and streamlining the workflow for pathologists.

History of Digital Pathology:

Digital pathology is a relatively new field in the realm of medical technology, but it is gaining traction and revolutionizing the way pathology is practiced. In simple terms, digital pathology is the process of digitizing glass slides containing tissue samples, allowing for easier storage, retrieval, and analysis of the images. This Whole Slide Scanning technology has the potential to greatly improve efficiency in pathology laboratories and reduce turnaround time for diagnoses.

One of the key advantages of digital pathology is the ability to share and access images remotely. With the digitization of slides, pathologists can easily collaborate with colleagues, regardless of their geographical location. This opens up opportunities for teleconsultation and ensures that expert opinions are readily available, even in areas lacking experienced pathologists.

Another benefit of digital pathology is the potential to automate certain tasks. Image analysis algorithms can be utilized to assist pathologists in identifying and quantifying specific features in tissue samples. This can help reduce human error and provide more precise and consistent results.

To embark on the digitization of slides, there are a few essentials that a pathology laboratory will need. First and foremost, a high-quality slide scanner is necessary to capture detailed images of the tissue samples. It is important to select a scanner that can produce high-resolution images and handle a variety of slides, including different sizes and thicknesses.

In addition to the scanner, a robust digital pathology software platform is essential. This software should be user-friendly and offer features such as image storage, retrieval, annotation, and secure.

What is Digital Pathology?

Digital pathology, also known as virtual pathology or whole-slide imaging, involves the conversion of glass slides into high-resolution digital images. These digital images can be viewed, analyzed, and shared electronically, eliminating the need for physical slides. The digitalization process ensures that the minute details of the tissue samples are preserved, allowing pathologists to examine them in great detail.

Benefits of Digital Pathology:

One of the biggest advantages of digital pathology is the ability to access and analyze slides remotely. Pathologists can view and interpret slides from anywhere with an internet connection, making it easier to collaborate with colleagues and experts worldwide. This remote access eliminates the need for physical transport of slides, saving time and reducing the risk of damage or loss.

Another key benefit of digital pathology is the significant reduction in turnaround time. Pathologists can analyze slides more efficiently, as they can navigate through the digital images quickly and directly zoom in on areas of interest. This improved efficiency translates into faster diagnosis and treatment planning, ultimately benefiting patients.

Digital pathology also allows for the creation of an extensive digital archive of slides. These digital archives can be digital Pathology simply put is the ability to digitize slides irrespective of the preanalytic variations, consistently produce high-quality digital slides across stain and sample types, store the digitized slides securely either on-premise or over a secure HIPAA-compliant cloud server, provide access to multiple pathologists across multiple devices across multiple geographies, seamless gather input from these viewers, and store them back into the secure image server.

Digital Pathology is the best solution for pathologists looking to improve their workflow and enhance collaboration with colleagues and experts worldwide.

Getting Started with Digitizing Pathology:

To start digitizing slides, you will need a digital pathology system. This system typically consists of a microscope slide scanner, image management software, and a secure storage solution. The microscope slide scanner captures high-resolution images of the glass slides, and the image management software allows pathologists to view, analyze, and annotate these digital images. The secure storage solution ensures that the digitized slides are stored safely and can be accessed by authorized personnel.

Choosing the Right Digital Pathology Partner:

When selecting a digital pathology partner, there are several factors to consider:

1. Accuracy and Quality: Ensure that the partner's slide scanning technology delivers high-quality images with an accurate representation of the original glass slides. The images should retain all the essential details and be suitable for accurate diagnosis.

2. Scalability and Flexibility: Look for a partner who can provide a scalable solution that can handle your current workload and accommodate future growth. The system should also be flexible enough to adapt to your laboratory's specific needs and workflows.

3. User Experience and Integration: The digital pathology system should have a user-friendly interface that allows pathologists to easily navigate through the digital slides and perform analysis efficiently. It should also integrate seamlessly with your existing laboratory information system (LIS) and other relevant software.

4. Experience and Expertise: Choose a partner with a proven track record in digital pathology. Look for references and case studies, Digital Pathology eliminates the need for physical storage of slides, reducing the risk of loss or damage. The digitized slides can be securely stored either on-site or on a cloud server that complies with HIPAA regulations, ensuring the privacy and security of patient data.

5. Security and Compliance: Since digital pathology involves the storage and sharing of patient data, it is crucial to ensure that the interface for microscopy mimics and ensures you never miss your microscope.

The interface and the definition of a good interface is primarily Access. Digital Pathology helps pathologists report anytime anywhere. That is the new normal. It is very very empowering to take work to different places. Digital Pathology enables the pathologist to travel more or visit more places like pathology conferences, clinicians, and more. Digital Pathology can help deliver either a more relaxed lifestyle or a more productive work environment for pathologists. It allows for greater flexibility in terms of where and when they can access and analyze slides, leading to increased efficiency and potentially improving patient outcomes.

In addition, Digital Pathology facilitates collaboration among multiple pathologists, regardless of their location. Pathologists can easily share and gather input from colleagues, enhancing diagnostic accuracy and enabling more comprehensive treatment plans.

Overall, Digital Pathology revolutionizes the field of pathology by providing a seamless and efficient way to digitize, store, and analyze slides. It offers pathologists unprecedented freedom and flexibility, ultimately leading to improved patient care., or a more efficient work life. Digital Pathology helps grow business across multiple places. That access is a very fundamental benefit. It is a paradigm shift that changes things The interface can be intelligent. If it is a digital interface the technology is advanced enough and a lot of good tools can be assistive in nature for the pathologist.

From a path point of view.

Digital Pathology helps pathologists report anytime anywhere. That is the new normal. It is very very empowering to take work to different places. Digital Pathology enables the pathologist to travel more or visit more places like pathology conferences, clinicians, and more. Digital Pathology can help deliver either a more relaxed lifestyle, or a more efficient work life. Digital Pathology helps grow business across multiple places. That access is a very fundamental benefit. It is a paradigm shift that changes things The interface can be intelligent. If it is a digital interface the technology is advanced enough and a lot of good tools can be assistive in nature for the pathologist.

From the business point of view, there is a phase shift.

As a business, it needs access to good pathologists, and Digital Pathology gives access to more high-quality pathologists.

Digital Pathology gives the business access to more pathologists. This can result in higher quality reporting, because of the access to sub-specialists, and at the same time, there can be cost savings, given that talent is geographically distributed. Digital Pathology solves the problem of talent acquisition because it helps to hire the right people, locum pathology, right talent on demand. In a nutshell, Digital pathology means On-demand the best pathology talent for your operation. That unlocks quality and cost.

There is a big debate on time and TAT if the pathology lab runs as a distributed operation where slides are being prepared at multiple locations, For example, there is a source for a slide and a destination for a slide. The source can be multiple or singular, but the destination is usually multiple. Moving the slide from one source, and coordinating the right destination, the logistics eat up multiple days, or can happen in half a day at a premium cost, but that logistics goes away with Digital Pathology. That brings savings in time and money. Time is a bigger saving.

If it is an in-house operation, where slides are created in-house, and the pathologist is also reporting in-house, there is a small addition to the turnaround time. Although it is a small addition to the turnaround time, the level of organization that Digital Pathology brings to the table provides access to a much better workflow. This mental peace, and at the time saved is about driving efficiency. The peace and certainty of the workflow drive efficiency. Having an integrated practice, where LIS data, Microscopy observations, and macroscopy images, are all in one place, on the same screen, you don’t need to look around for data. With this ensured traceability, these soft benefits outweigh the cost of a few hours of additional tat.

This is like a big picture for two important stakeholders.

From the technician's point of view

Speaking of technicians, who are going to prepare the slides, it does not make a huge difference, once you have a high throughput scanner because you can load and forget. The whole assignment of cases, creating trays, all the headache goes away. QC of slides can be automated, via software and PA being dragged into the heavy operations, all of that becomes much smoother with Digital Pathology in place.

Right pathway for going Digital & choosing the right scanner for your use-case.

There are enough and more Digital Pathology Slide scanners out there. The whole Silde scanning technology is advanced. Whole slide imaging is not a university-only thing anymore. The right product has to be something that qualifies in terms of image quality, scanning throughput, and most importantly the software tooling around it. This becomes the heart of things. The software tooling, ease of integrating things, ease of not having to not jump through all the hoops, setting up the IT, setting up remote access, multiple people having access to Digital Slides, Ability to share the scan with multiple people, all these things become essential it has to be used to the fullest.

It is ultimately file sharing that you are doing at the end, and it is the application that creates the interface on top of that data, but the access control has to be extremely powerful, and easy to use. This is demonstrated by other categories of products, like Google Drive, Dropbox, etc.

There is a whole concept of speed. Not just hardware but the speed of the viewer, not many people talk about it. It is essential to the comfort of the pathologist. It should not feel like a drag. It should be fast enough in the context of internet speed and bandwidth, having that extremely fast enough viewer, that can work lag-free with the network bandwidth available at the lab. There are not-so-good options that make you upload data to the server, and the server gets clogged due to bandwidth limitations. Digital Pathology should be more about serving images, very similar to say YouTube. There is an efficient way to do streaming, there are smart algorithms that good companies have developed which make it seem effortless.

Scanning resolution: 40x is the right choice. It never hurts to have better image quality. There can be cases where 40x does not add much value, but there are cases where 40x adds a lot of value. If it is for a 6-month project, then maybe 40x is not important, but if the investment is for the long run, Say at least a few years, you should go for the better image resolution. Because it gives pathologists comfort, like if you are looking for nuclear or intracellular details, or if you are hunting for H.Pililory which by the way is very notorious for scanning, if these can be scanned.

It is wise to ask for these kinds of slides to be scanned or demonstrated. Once you have seen these extremities, it is very likely that it will handle 99.9% of the cases.

Furthermore, digital pathology can help reduce turnaround time in several ways:

1. Faster Access: 
With digitized slides, pathologists can access and analyze cases remotely, eliminating the need for the physical transportation of glass slides. This significantly reduces the time it takes to review and diagnose cases.

2. Efficient Collaboration:
Digital pathology allows for easy sharing and collaboration among pathologists, regardless of their geographical location. Pathologists can quickly consult with colleagues, discuss complex cases, and seek second opinions, leading to faster decision-making and diagnosis.

3. Automated Workflows:
Digital pathology platforms often come with advanced image analysis algorithms and tools that can automate certain tasks, such as cell counting or tumor grading. This automation reduces manual labor and accelerates the diagnostic process.

4. Streamlined Reporting:
Digital pathology systems often have reporting features that enable pathologists to generate comprehensive and standardized reports. These reports can be generated quickly and shared with the relevant stakeholders, saving time and ensuring accuracy.

What does Morphle Bring to the table?

Digital Pathology is a highly underserved market, and lacks having a robust, high resolution, and fast enough microscope slide scanner. This combination is not a very easy technology to build, and the industry has failed to deliver all the right products. Our microscope slide scanners have perfected this combination, and there is a lot of magic that goes behind the screen, we have many patents on various aspects. We bring cutting-edge tech with respect to high resolution and consistency of resolution across slides. Not just high resolution at one point, because whole slide scanns involves having multiple focus points and interpolating those focus planes, and how you do that in case of folds, DPX bubbles, where the focal plane can shift. These are some edge cases that should have been perfected. The whole thought was to bring the power of advanced neural networks to drive the scanner in real time. It actually uses neural networks in real-time to control how the focus is happening. Which area to scan, when to change the focal plane. There is a lot of software infused into the hardware control systems of the microscope slide scanners. That is what gives us the edge, that is what helps us deliver extremely reliable and consistent high-resolution images for almost all the slides. We have a rejection of 0.1 -0.3% which is much much higher for most of the competition. That was the north star of the company, the rejection should be sub 1%, and we have exceeded our own expectations where the rejection is about 0.2%.

There are some companies that are building fast microscope slide scanners, there are some that are building cheap microscope slide scanners, and Morphle is the mix between having high resolution, and good enough speed. This is the golden middle ground, which has the best of all the aspects.

There is optimization, and there are constraints, time is a constraint, and quality is what everyone should try and maximize. We look at these parameters as constraints and not the final maximizing parameter. We maximize the quality and robustness. This has led us to build the right product which helps the end user achieve their goal much faster, and we have seen 100% user satisfaction.
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