There is no time like the present to be part of the digital pathology field.
According to a 2022 report published by Facts and Factors Research, the global digital pathology market is expected to grow at a 13.8 percent CAGR increase in the next five years. In a recent Forbes article, Dan Lambert, CEO of PathologyWatch, spotlights several different market factors that are synergistically signaling exciting growth opportunities ahead.
Increased Demand for Remote Work
When the COVID-19 pandemic hit in 2020, many companies saw increased demand for the ability to work remotely. With a national emergency declared in the United States, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) waived some requirements for remote pathology sites. The ensuing three years have shown the benefits of digital pathology, especially as the demand for remote work remains high.
Lambert also sees digital pathology as a way to connect people in underserved areas with the latest technological advances in healthcare, which otherwise would not be accessible to them. “I predict that remote digital pathology will eventually help leapfrog the latest technology forward by connecting individual offices with dermpath experts and algorithms throughout the world,” Lambert writes.
New CPT Codes
The College of American Pathologists (CAP) worked with the AMA CPT Editorial Board in 2022 to develop a series of 13 new Category III digital pathology digitization procedure codes, which went into effect on January 1, 2023. Before the change, US labs used the same codes to report a diagnostic read, whether they were made under a microscope or using digital pathology.
The new codes will be used to track the extent to which digital pathology is being utilized, with the hope that it will soon result in additional reimbursement amounts, allowing those using the new technology to recoup some of their costs.
“I see this change providing a clear financial incentive for labs to invest in digital pathology,” Lambert says.
Digital pathology provides a more efficient means of communication between dermatologists and dermatopathologists. Where the old model functioned with biopsy samples placed on glass slides sent off to a lab, digital pathology streamlines the process by scanning the samples into digitized slides. Dermpaths now read the case digitally and can consult in real time with the originating dermatologist.
“Quicker and more efficient diagnosis and communication can position the patient as the real beneficiary of digital pathology advancement,” says Lambert. ”In time, I predict that digital pathology and remote reads by experts will be the industry standard.”
Until recently, most parts of the digital pathology process were handled separately. In the past, one company might have specialized in building viewers, while one developed diagnostic algorithms, and another specialized in the EMR systems that tracked each patient’s case. But now, vendors like PathologyWatch, with its Dermpath Optimization Tool, have developed systems that cohesively connect each step in the process.
“The fact that a few different vendors have developed start-to-finish systems is a good thing for digital pathology,” Lambert says. “[It] means the industry will continue shifting to support digital solutions.”
To read the full Forbes article, click here.