AI set to transform digital pathology for hospitals, says Frost & Sullivan

A new report sees hospitals and diagnostic labs becoming the biggest adopters of digital pathology tools – and says vendors can boost their chances of approval and commercialization by staying focused on cost optimization for clinicians.
By Mike Miliard
04:06 PM

A big shift is coming for digital pathology and artificial intelligence, as focus moves from the pharma sector toward clinical diagnostics in hospitals and laboratories, according to a new report by Frost & Sullivan. 

WHY IT MATTERS
According to the research – which explores the next decade or so for digital whole slide scanning, imaging solutions, data repository and more – changes are coming for those technologies (and those who use them) as artificial intelligence impacts how and where the digital tools are employed.

"Once they are established as primary and secondary diagnostic tools, clinicians will be able to decrease turnaround time, prioritize critical cases and improve overall patient outcomes," according to Frost & Sullivan. "However, for AI tools to gain regulatory approval for primary diagnosis in digital pathology, it is imperative to adopt a parallel workflow to showcase the superior benefits of pathology diagnoses that amass data."

Among the advances and evolutions in the space in the near-term future, Frost & Sullivan sees wider use and better management of the clinical datasets owned by major medical institutions as a major boon for developers of digital pathology tech.

It also predicts broader cooperation as hospitals, diagnostic labs and other researchers build bigger datasets comprising both digital pathology and more traditional methods – enabling an easier path toward regulatory approval of new tools.

The report argues, in fact, that approval of AI-enabled technologies should "be a top priority for AI-based digital pathology-focused companies as low to medium risk diagnostic avenues is also an innovative approach to transition from pharmaceutical to mainstream clinical applications in the digital pathology segment."

THE LARGER TREND
The report points to recent FDA approvals, for diagnostic tools such as OsteoDetect, which deploys an algorithm to detect distal radius fractures in X-rays, as emblematic of the kind of sea change that's coming for AI and imaging diagnostics.

It's happening in the U.S., in the U.K. and elsewhere – and major health systems are preparing themselves for the future. This past year, for example, Massachusetts General and Brigham and Women's hospitals launched a collaboration with Philips to create new digital pathology centers and set best practices and protocols for this emerging era.

"Determining how to integrate intelligent technology into workflows is a first step to change how pathologists work on a day-to-day basis and to allow for the introduction and development of artificial intelligence in diagnostic anatomic pathology," said Dr. David Louis, pathologist-in-chief at Mass General.

ON THE RECORD
"AI has the potential to analyze big data and find patterns and insights that could enhance patient outcomes in the field of pathology," said Deepak Jayakumar, senior research analyst at Frost & Sullivan's TechVision research practice. "It can serve as a supplementary or a validation tool in imaging analytics for pathologists, and help process more slides in a shorter duration."

Jayakumar added that "hospitals and diagnostic labs will be the largest adopters of digital pathology over the next decade. Technology innovators can ensure greater commercialization by focusing on improving cost optimization for end users through pay-per-use or SaaS models. Additionally, they could map service gaps, expand product portfolios, and use the information obtained from clinical data to develop cutting-edge solutions.

Twitter: @MikeMiliardHITN
Email the writer: mike.miliard@himssmedia.com

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