Slides in the Machine

Digital pathology is the future of storing and sharing images of tissue – and combining it with deep learning could further transform the field

By David West, Jr. and Hunter Jackson

June 2017

At a Glance

  • In the past, digital pathology has been held back by software and storage issues – but advances such as cloud computing are breaking down these barriers
  • Whole slide imaging can improve efficiency, increase automation, and improve collaboration between institutions all over the world
  • Machine-learning-driven “computational pathology” may also result in new biomarkers, workflow improvements, and image-based diagnostics, providing pathologists with new tools for diagnosing disease
  • FDA approval of the first WSI system is a turning point for the technology, and soon “digital pathology” may instead simply be “pathology”

Artificial intelligence in healthcare is gaining ground in areas ranging from patient care to diagnosis, data management, and many others. And although we’re still a long way from reaching full automation, pathology is ripe for major disruption.

Gone are the days of having cabinets full of slides that are difficult to share and only viewable by squinting down a microscope. Pathologists can now examine tissue on their computers from anywhere in the world via whole slide imaging – and, with the help of computational pathology software powered by intelligent machine learning, will have new, precise information at their fingertips. The digital revolution is already underway.

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