Already central to providing the diagnostic information that helps determine patient treatment, pathologists now play a more pivotal role than ever in clinical decision support, thanks to healthcare reform initiatives focused on providing cost-effective, value-based care.
Pathology networks are supporting the effort in a variety of ways by providing pathologists with a venue and tools for sharing digitized pathology images and supporting information that allows them to be more actively involved with patient care initiatives. Pathology networks are transforming pathology services and patient treatment by allowing pathologists to collaborate, consult, and communicate with other pathologists, providers, and even patients anywhere in the world without the limitation of physical glass slides.
Pathologists can upload digitized slides to a network to discuss a case with members of the care team, perform and obtain secondary consultations, and share case information and treatment options among a wide base of users within the network. Supporting patient documentation, such as biomarker results, detailed lab results, X-rays, and other medical record data, can also be uploaded so physicians can quickly review the most critical diagnostic information in one place and collaborate to expedite treatment decisions.
Increasingly, pathologists are using digital pathology images to interact directly with patients who have an interest in seeing their pathology results, or viewing their cancer biopsies, much as patients are shown X-ray results to communicate and support diagnosis and treatment. This is fostering pathologists’ ability to become a visible and integral part of the care team and communicate with patients to provide a deeper understanding of the diagnosis and care plan.
Pathology groups and labs can use pathology networks to increase revenue through remote consultation and outreach services, or to expand pathology services in their local markets. The demand for sub-specialty pathology expertise in underserved countries provides a significant opportunity for U.S.-based physicians to access networks routinely to evaluate consultation opportunities and respond to case requests from around the world.
Digital pathology and pathology networks are changing the face of pathology services, leading to better collaboration and improved treatment outcomes around the world.