The Digital Revolution
Fujifilm providing end-to-end solutions for digital pathology customers
Tim Wing | | Interview
sponsored by Fujifilm
Tell us about Fujifilm’s digital pathology solutions…
Fujifilm distributes the Dynamyx digital pathology solution. The Dynamyx software was originally designed by and for pathologists and laboratory teams, keeping the workflow, case management, case history, image evaluation, and management system all in one highly functional package. Dynamyx links to many scanners using either the original image file formats or Dicom. This enables Fujifilm to support any customer, whether they have legacy scanning devices or not. This openness extends to LIMS connectivity and AI. If a customer prefers a particular scanner, AI solution, or reporting tool, Fujifilm will provide the entire end-to-end solution.
How has Fujifilm’s transition to digital pathology changed its service?
Histopathology services are facing a “perfect storm” – a yearly 5–7 percent increase in demand, often with increasingly complex cases, alongside a reduction in the number of Consultant Histopathologists. Pathology services are finding it difficult to recruit in a competitive employment market because, as young professionals make their career choices in scientific medicine, the “Xbox generation” of modern medical students are looking for IT-oriented opportunities that take advantage of AI. By transitioning its customers into digital pathology, Fujifilm is helping make histopathology more attractive. In addition to the user benefits, digital solutions offer significant logistical and operational benefits, enabling hospitals to achieve higher levels of productivity. Because the move to digital pathology is a natural extension of Fujifilm’s already extensive history in digital imaging, Fujifilm is excited to be a part of the digital revolution in histopathology.
What kind of service support and training does Fujifilm provide?
Fujifilm understands that not everyone finds digitization easy and therefore provides a full support and implementation service that ensures program success. Fujifilm manages the entire process, allocating a dedicated project manager and application specialists. Particularly during the training phase, our experience has shown that it is preferable to engage one-on-one with the pathologists throughout the process. We tailor the project and address their personal views, such as acceptance of digital pathology, worries or concerns about the technology, and change reticence. Our engineering teams also implement the IT and technical infrastructure for the customer. Fujifilm’s partner scanner companies operate similarly, teaching lab teams how the technology works. After training is complete, we allocate a Customer Relationship Manager to maintain regular contact in case users have any further needs or questions. Our CRM is backed up by the Clinical Application team if any further assistance is required.
What challenges did Fujifilm face when transitioning to digital pathology?
Convincing the pathology community that digital pathology is a viable alternative to microscopy has been a long journey. Five years ago, some pathologists were reluctant to discuss moving to digital. For a few, losing their microscope was described as “losing their right arm!” We rarely hear those concerns today because the histopathology community understands the role of digital pathology in the patient pathway.
The challenge for us is to help pathology management as they seek to convince their leadership that digital pathology generates significant return on investment.
How does Fujifilm’s focus on digital pathology benefit both pathologists and patients?
Healthcare providers are regularly required to reduce diagnostic wait times. However, with fewer pathologists and more complex cases, the targets that are being set can be difficult to achieve. In support of healthcare providers, Fujifilm offers Dynamyx with digital tools that pathologists can use to speed up the measurements, diagnosis, and quantification of disease. The Dynamyx Open Platform facilitates the use of AI to give these initiatives greater impetus.
Combining AI with digitization can facilitate faster, more accurate, and more consistent clinical diagnosis. AI makes use of objective, quantitative data to give a true representation of disease. Everyone involved in the process can benefit from using AI, because it offers pathology services higher throughput with more consistency than a decreasing consultant workforce would otherwise allow.
In addition to all of this, Fujifilm can also deploy a Vendor Neutral Archive as part of its Cloud First strategy. This enables customers to adopt sophisticated rules that govern image data management, lifecycle management, data dissemination, recall, and enterprise access.
Finally, there are additional benefits. Consultants have told us that digital pathology “liberates them from the lab,” allowing them to choose their own working environment.
One immediate benefit has been that pathology tasks that are repetitive and time-consuming, such as analyzing immunohistochemistry samples in breast pathology, can be supported by image analysis. These new tools support pathologists, freeing up time for them to focus on the complex cases in which their experience and expertise is most valuable.