Industry conversations will evolve to focus on longer-term and more holistic concerns

Blitz interview with Imogen Fitt, Senior Market Analyst, Signify Research
January 18, 2024

What can we expect for digital pathology in 2024?

2023 saw strong growth in the market, with many encouraging industry developments related to partnerships, regulatory approvals, and product launches - I’m sure each will have a great impact moving forward!

Across 2024 I also expect that as COVID-era implementations start to mature and adoption of digital pathology for primary diagnosis increases, industry conversations will evolve to focus on longer-term and more holistic concerns. Topics like image storage, standardisation, and the true return-on-investment behind digital pathology for each lab have still yet to be fully addressed, and pathology departments will increasingly need to consider how pathology digitisation can be impacted by and contribute to the wider healthcare ecosystem.

What lessons can be drawn from other industries?

The closest equivalent analogue pathology has within healthcare when considering its journey to digitisation is the radiology department, and there are many lessons that can be learned from the latter’s transition. For one, standardisation provides many benefits to customers in terms of facilitating interoperability, and the earlier this is achieved the better for all. Following on from this, adoption of products should be considered in a way that dissuades from ‘vendor lock-in’ and leaves customers free to collaborate with as many vendors/products as they wish.

Additionally, there is also existing infastructure within radiology which can be leveraged in the short-term to support digital pathology, such as vendor neutral archives. Radiology is also slowly transitioning to cloud architectures, and as pathology departments start to use digital technologies for primary diagnosis, they would do well to discuss their options for image storage with both IT departments and radiology counterparts to understand the implications different approaches will have on everyday work.

How can we transition from focusing on cost to emphasizing ROI in digital pathology adoption?

The digital pathology industry is at such a nascent stage that what works for one lab may not necessarily be suited to another, and there are relatively few examples of mature high-throughput labs for new adopters to learn from. Total cost of ownership (TCO) and return on investment (ROI) is tricky to measure in any setting, but not impossible. Answering this question begins by measuring today’s activities and correctly identifying where inefficiencies lie. This will enable adopters to draw comparisons later down the line and address any issues that can be resolved immediately. Laboratory information systems software vendors are increasingly offering business analytics modules to help support this. Outside of the customer sphere, vendors too can help this process by engaging in health economic studies which offer quantified evidence to prospective customers.

Author bio: Imogen Fitt is a Senior Market Analyst working within the healthcare IT team at UK-based market intelligence company, Signify Research. Signify Research focuses on primary data collection as a part of its research methodology, working directly with some of the largest healthcare technology companies worldwide to produce its market reports. Since joining in 2018, Imogen has expanded Signify Research’s preclinical coverage to cover markets such as digital pathology, laboratory information systems, oncology information systems and AI in drug development.

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