In 9 out of 10 cases, the talk quickly falls on scanning – the very process of taking a digital image of a tissue sample so that clinicians can view it on a screen, zoom in, remotely diagnose, send to others to get a second opinion and file easily on a hard drive. All extremely important, but still only part of the digital pathology of the future.
It’s about data and quality
For us, the digital pathology starts as soon as the tissue or cells are taken from a patient and the sample has to go on the long journey through the many phases of pre-analysis. Once the digital technology is fully implemented – from operating room to archiving – all the important data will follow the test from start to finish.
Along the way, we will not only know everything relevant about the patient, but also how the sample is transported, as well as how long and at what temperature. Also, whether it has been in formalin or not. We will know each detail regarding cutting, fixing and preparation. Which reagents have been used along the way, which stainings, and which deviations, if any, has been from the standard procedure.
All as a natural part of the process, where every single digital machine in the chain contributes essential information to the overall picture. Only with that knowledge in hand can you optimize all parts of the workflow and ensure the highest possible quality of the finished material.
The best starting point for a correct diagnosis
Therefore, when the clinician sits at the screen and looks at the high-resolution scan, he or she knows that this tissue or cells are prepared 100% correctly and according to every conceivable protocol. So now it is just the diagnosis it is all about. And it has the best chances of being accurate.
The quality will not least have an impact on one of the current important focus areas, molecular pathology. The advanced and often costly tests require that the tissue in all processes are treated optimally to give valid results and decision on a continued treatment of the patient.