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Inside the Lab Technology and innovation, Software and hardware, Quality assurance and quality control

It’s a People Thing

New technology can be powerful – but how far does it get if people don’t want to adopt it? Find out in part three of our six-part “Barriers to Adopting Digital Pathology” series.

The adoption rate of any new technology is dependent on how much positive impact it offers and how much it resonates with its users. This reality was evident in the early days of mobile payments, which took over two decades to mature because of various factors, including clunky software that caused usability issues, practical limitations caused by phone batteries dying halfway through the day, and misunderstanding about the security of mobile payments. 

Two key factors that determine mass adoption of any new technology are trust and ease-of-use. Technological advances will resolve reliability issues over time, but it is imperative that people can use the tech without difficulty. There are many technology users in a pathology lab: laboratory technicians who prepare the specimens, make slides, and organize them for review; pathologists who consider all the facts of a case and establish a diagnosis that cannot be contested; and lab administrators who manage people and logistics while delivering outcomes to patients and lab owners.

Most digital pathology leaders have made it clear that labs must become more vigilant about specimen handling, data management, and cost optimization. This trend – combined with the burden on technicians to create the perfect glass slide or to learn how many sampling points to choose for a tissue – has put enormous pressure on training and compliance. However, intelligent scanning systems with embedded AI are set to usher in a new era of the lab – reducing many of these laborious steps and eliminating some steps altogether.

The interpretation of images, metadata, and their interactions is a major source of disagreement among pathologists, but software capable of advanced visualization techniques can smooth them out. Relevant data can be presented in a contextual manner to pathologists as they review a case with several digital slides – everything from physician notes to radiology reports. By using appropriate viewing software, tissue specimens can be aligned, rotated, and manipulated to gain better insights and avoid potential pitfalls. This advanced software can empower pathologists to achieve greater efficiency and accuracy, providing a degree of control previously unheard of.

In speaking with various lab managers, a common theme has emerged: the need to increase capacity while improving turn-around times, all without incurring additional costs or hiring more staff. A well-designed digital pathology solution can provide seamless scalability, and progressive business models offering digital pathology as a service can achieve commercial objectives. 

But it is only through a close and trusted partnership between providers and users – that is, between people – that the digital transformation can come to pass.

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About the Author
Prasanth Perugupalli

Chief Product Officer at Pramana, Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA.

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