Digital image sharing means faster diagnosis, more collaboration, and better visual data for pathologists
- Digital image sharing has become standard in labs worldwide because of its numerous advantages, including improved patient outcomes
- Sharing pathology images digitally means they get where they need to be when they are needed
- Worldwide collaboration is possible with digitally shared pathology images and especially benefits doctors and patients in remote areas
- Digitally sharing pathology images reduces costs, improves productivity, spurs innovation through collaboration, and enhances the education of future doctors
- When it comes to HIPAA, digital sharing is more private and secure, provided it’s done with proper encryption and protocols
Digitization has transformed many aspects of the medical profession, and that includes pathology, where high-throughput scanners and sophisticated software create high-resolution digital images. These digital slide images are transforming the field of pathology, allowing for image sharing, collaboration, and better outcomes for patients.
Digital pathology has become ubiquitous in labs around the world and is continuing to expand rapidly as its advantages become obvious. It allows for quick second opinions, can help serve remote and understaffed areas, and allows fast access to information. In addition, there’s no fear of lost or fading slides, reduced risk of misidentification, and digitization allows for more efficient dynamic workload allocation.
Some doubters remain among pathologists, but in the pandemic era, more are seeing the value of digital pathology to help manage workloads and make diagnoses from a distance. Those bullish on digital pathology tout the accuracy of pathology with digital images along with its flexibility to assist in remote diagnosis through image sharing. Let’s talk about all the benefits a pathology office can reap from digitizing images and sharing them as opposed to transporting these images the old-fashioned way.
Improved patient outcomes through image sharing
A pathologist’s role in patient care is to make a diagnosis based on tissue samples. It’s a huge responsibility, as one person or a small group is making vital decisions. Human error can plague this process, even when expert eyes are viewing the samples.
Digital pathology helps reduce human error and can give precise diagnostic results. It also speeds up things like tissue biopsies, where fast treatment can have a huge impact on the final outcome. Even if the physician isn’t physically available, the digital images can be sent instantly anywhere in the world for rapid analysis. This facilitates wide-scale collaboration that can improve diagnosis and patient treatment plans.
In the lab itself, consultations with colleagues become easy because images can be viewed at their convenience. Panel discussions with specialists spread across the globe become much more efficient when the shared images can be viewed by everyone at the same time.
These four benefits of digital pathology image sharing for patient safety and improved outcomes can’t be ignored.
- Reduced costs: Traditionally, slide images were couriered to wherever they needed to go, which is costly in terms of both time and money. Sharing images digitally also reduces the need for scientists to travel and cuts the time and resources spent to analyze and interpret data. There are also savings through the elimination of glass slides, dyes, adhesives, and the cost of preserving the pathology specimens before you send them to colleagues or institutions.
- Spurring innovation: Sharing images gives scientists access to better tools, data, and it allows them to share practices and ideas with a broader global audience.
- Improved productivity: By sharing images digitally, team members don’t have to gather at the same time in the same place to all view a photo of a sample. Digital images can be rapidly shared, and there’s no need to search through a huge number of physical slides to find the one that’s needed.
- Enhanced education: When digital images are shared, they offer a huge database of samples for study and analysis in universities. Pathologists also can help educate other pathologists by sharing whole-slide images along with videos and other forms of content. This allows pathologists in different disciplines to share cases as well as their tips and tricks.
HIPAA, pathology, and digital image sharing
DVDs and CDs present the worst option for sharing images. They can all too easily get into the wrong hands – not to mention they are a huge waste of time, money, and resources. However, simply sharing images via something like Dropbox or email does not meet HIPAA requirements. What’s needed is a HIPAA-compliant cloud service that enables secure transmission and restricts viewing to authorized persons only.
Lab slide images, whether physical or digital, contain private patient information. This means images can only be shared with authorized parties, usually a physician or physician’s office. Access to digital images is much more easily controlled with user permission protocols.
The technology used to share images is equally important when it comes to protecting patient privacy. Data has to be anonymized, recipient access has to be controllable, and it’s helpful to have the ability to restrict viewing to a certain timeframe as well.
When data is shared, an internal secure cloud gateway should be used, and all data must be encrypted while at rest and while it is being transmitted. Multi-factor authentication is also vital to HIPAA compliance.
Digital image sharing is a game-changer for pathologists simply by improving productivity, collaboration, and patient outcomes. A side benefit is that it helps your fellow pathologists by reducing the physical strain of traditional analysis: No more bending over lab equipment. Instead, you can share a large, high-resolution image that can be viewed on a computer screen in comfort. And with cloud-based sharing, it’s done speedily, securely, and compliantly.
SHARE XR: Pathology image sharing made easy
SHARE XR is a unique set of technologies that allows seamless and secure communication between pathologists and physicians. Pathology slide images are easily and quickly transferred electronically: No disk required!
Our SHARE XR solution keeps life simple by providing an inexpensive solution that works on every device type, so you can share pathology images securely from any location to anywhere in the world in mere minutes!
Learn more about how SHARE RX can get you caught up with today’s speed of medicine. Reach out today.