Digital pathology enables dermatologists to manage and view information captured on digital slides. With no clinical differences to glass slides in 99.3 percent of cases, whole slide imaging allows clinics to access data anywhere and anytime using a digital pathology image viewer.
When it comes to image viewers, there are a variety of features, benefits, and limitations. Digital pathology enables ease of access, quality assurance, functionality, and the ability to collaborate. Exploring these features will help you better understand what to look for in a digital viewer for your whole slide imaging.
Ease of Access and Technical Requirements
Entering the digital era does not require dermatologists to make capital investments in costly scanners and computing platforms. All they need to access a patient’s high-resolution slide is a web-based image viewer, which is available online through most modern devices (e.g., mobile, tablet, or laptop). Because the viewer is stored online, faster processors and high-speed internet connections will result in quicker image retrieval.
While only 20 percent of dermatologists are reading their slides, the other 80 percent would still like to view them on demand. When processing laboratories provide viewers, dermatologists can view a patient’s entire history of digital slides in just a few clicks, without having to log into a separate site. Digital pathology partners like PathologyWatch provide pain-free access to the latest in image display technology as part of their services model.
Using the right digital pathology image viewer can help dermatologists support traditional microscopy with whole slide imaging to increase their level of quality control. As dermatology represents 5.7 percent of all physician office visits in the United States, quality assurance is requisite to ensure patient outcomes, professional fulfillment, and efficiency within the practice.
By linking to patient data from the processing laboratory information systems (LIS), image viewers enable pathologists or dermatologists to review patient slides while accessing important case details at the same time. Thus, a dermatologist can view an entire slide, see the slide’s label, and then compare the findings to other documented patient information to ensure the highest quality of care.
Image viewers enable dermatologists to experience a new level of control by maneuvering around digital slides in a way similar to using Google Maps. This intuitive functionality has been shown in some studies to complete digital diagnostics nearly six percent faster than traditional microscopy. Look for viewers that combine an instinctive, user-friendly interface with the tools you need to support your viewing experience.
Standard image viewers allow users to magnify and toggle across digital slides and measure and record the distance between two spots. There are also viewers designed for annotation, making it possible to mark up and rapidly navigate to areas of interest.
Finally, color fidelity plays a critical role in accurate pathology viewing. To maintain consistency with the slide capture, a qualified image viewer should display an equivalent one-to-one transfer of pixels and color contrast from the scanner. The higher the resolution, the clearer the slide will be when you zoom in to view it.
Collaborating with others in a secure environment is a significant benefit to working with whole slide imaging.
“Collaborating outside your silo allows you to see the world with different eyes,” notes Sandra Camelo-Piragua. “[It] helps you tackle the problems from different perspectives and opens your mind to new possibilities.”
In a survey of academic pathologists, 97.6 percent agreed that digital pathology could improve collaboration in their department. There are image viewers that permit people to analyze data from multiple devices and locations around the world simultaneously. Additional conference tools allow members of the group to discuss and share notes.
As the digital pathology industry continues to grow, more image viewers will start coming to the market. By understanding the simple accessibility, quality control, intuitive functionality, and collaborative features of digital image viewers, you will be able to select the one that is right for you and your practice.
*PathologyWatch dermatopathologists use an independently validated digital software platform. The systems referenced are not FDA approved for use in primary digital diagnosis. Digital images may be made available to referring dermatology providers upon request through a digital display. Displays used are FOR EDUCATION AND RESEARCH USE ONLY, NOT FOR USE IN DIAGNOSTIC PROCEDURES. When referring providers or other providers choose to perform primary interpretation on any specimen, the corresponding glass slides are mailed for diagnostic purposes. For more information, please contact [email protected].