Find out what makes the two most integral tools for digital pathology so integral.
Though the concept of digital pathology has been around almost 60 years, it’s only recently that we’ve developed the tools needed to truly transform the practice into one of the most important branches of healthcare technology.
But what is digital pathology, and how can 4k medical monitors and brand new digital scanners revolutionize patient outcomes and clinician workflows?
What is Digital Pathology?
Pathology is the practice of studying body tissue samples for healthcare diagnosis.
Naturally, digital pathology is an extension of that practice, except with more cloud storage. The idea of digital pathology is to scan/import traditional slides of biological tissue into a computer and then securely share it over the network with other medical professionals.
To put it succinctly, it is an image-based environment for receiving, organizing, and analyzing digital images of slides. And because it’s image-based, the whole process needs two important pillars to function: high-definition image scanners and high-resolution medical grade monitors.
The Technology Required
The cornerstone of digital pathology is the digital scanner, a high-end, specialized device far more complex than the typical home scanner.
Instead of recording and digitizing a 2-dimensional image, pathology scanners take microscopic slides of tissue samples and map their geography down to the cellular level.
On the other end of the equation are high-definition medical monitors for pathologists viewing the digitized slides. Any specialists called in to analyze the tissue for dangerous biomarkers needs to be confident they won’t miss even a pixel of the high-resolution image being sent to them. Standard monitors in many hospitals are usually chosen for their affordability in bulk, which works just fine for spreadsheets. However, a pathologist’s monitor must be a cut above. The days of “1080p” being king are behind us: a monitor for pathology needs to be 4k, with somewhere in the neighborhood of 8 megapixels.
“4k” refers to a horizontal viewing resolution of 4,000 pixels on the monitor. And 8 megapixels means the monitor can display 8 million pixels. This depth of definition and clarity is vital for reviewing digital biopsies and making accurate diagnoses.
Most medical monitors are built from the ground up with durability and a long lifespan in mind: few computers need to run with 24/7 certainty like the computers in a hospital or doctor’s office. They’re also antimicrobial and sealed, making them both easier to clean and less likely to collect and pass off bacteria.
What are the Benefits of Digital Pathology?
Digital pathology can be expensive, but the benefits can’t be underestimated. AI software is improving daily, and can be used for image and pattern recognition to catch problems and help create diagnoses that might have otherwise been overlooked.
This pattern recognition can even be compared with historical data and images captured from all around the world. This creates a massive knowledge base that only expands with more users, and subsequently becomes more accurate with each pathologist who uses it.
What Does Digital Pathology Do for Patients?
Perhaps the most important element of digital pathology is the increased speed of diagnosis.
Pathologists often run their results by a colleague to ensure accuracy. In the past, this would involve sending physical slides across the country depending on the location of both pathologists. While this is going on for days or even weeks, the patient is waiting on tenterhooks to learn if they have a serious blood disease, cancer, or a million other possible maladies.
With digital pathology, a patient doesn’t have to agonize about their potential condition. Instead, the original pathologist can send the highly-detailed digital slides to other specialists over the internet. This increases the speed of diagnosis, lowers wait times, and also ensures geography is no longer a limiting factor, greatly expanding the pool of potential experts available to any given patient.
The Right Tools for the Job
It may cost a little extra to get a high-quality pathology scanner and a UHD medical monitor, but digital pathology is practically impossible without both.
To learn more about the medical monitors and equipment necessary to make the most of a digital pathology image, contact Cybernet today.