Digital Pathology: a Roadmap for the Future
How digital pathology puts the lab at the center of the patient journey
E. Blair Holladay | | Opinion
As diagnostic care advances, new technologies evolve to give pathologists and medical laboratory scientists the ability to guide and administer high-quality care. Digital pathology is one such technology playing an increasingly critical role in patient care.
Not only has digital pathology provided the laboratory with another tool to more accurately diagnose and personalize care, but it has also opened up avenues to patient care that previously did not exist. The ASCP-led coalition Partners for Cancer Diagnosis and Treatment in Africa, for example, leverages digital pathology to help treat patients in sub-Saharan Africa. Employing these collaborative capabilities between pathologists in the United States and healthcare facilities in Africa allows more patients to receive high-quality care in a timely and efficient manner.
At its heart, digital pathology is a simple concept – share an image (a digital slide) for a pathologist to evaluate and interpret for diagnosis. When you look closer at the technology, however, it’s easy to see that there is nothing simple about what digital pathology means for the field of laboratory science. It is a complex, continually evolving environment that changes pathology and laboratory medicine for the better every day. It is a pathway of innovation that allows for more precise, personalized management and underscores the patient in patient care. Digital pathology offers us innumerable possibilities for the laboratory to further position itself as the epicenter of a healthcare system – and of each patient’s care journey.
ASCP recently had the honor of partnering with the Union for International Cancer Control on their World Cancer Leaders’ Summit, which focused on “driving innovation to advance cancer control equitably.” Thought leaders from around the world debated current innovations in cancer care and how best to implement new tools and technologies in settings with varying resource limits. Because the laboratory is the foundation of patient care, digital pathology is crucial to creating environments in which high-quality care can thrive, no matter where patients live. It drives the transformation of care delivery – for all patients – and, when used effectively, has the potential to improve outcomes.
As leaders in healthcare, pathologists and medical laboratory scientists are called to be the guiding force for patient care. A patient’s journey starts in the lab, after all, and it is up to us to steer advancements that will directly impact and improve their experience. When we embrace advancements like digital pathology and allow them to expand our practice horizons, the forward motion we create saves lives and strengthens our position as leaders.