IN THE 2000S, DIGITAL PATHOLOGY WAS THE HOT NEW TECHNOLOGY that held great potential to transform anatomic pathology in myriad ways, not the least of which was an essential tool to streamline pathologist workflow while supporting greater diagnostic precision.
Yet today, approximately 10 years later, those high hopes for the digital pathology market have not come to fruition. The number of pathology laboratories using digital pathology on a regular basis remains limited.
The primary customers of the digital pathology market today are mostly biotech researchers, academic pathology groups, national pathology labs, and some large regional pathology practices. Few private practice pathology groups own and use digital pathology systems and digital images in daily practice. It is estimated that around 1,000 pathology labs worldwide own and use digital pathology systems on a regular basis.
Thus, it is noteworthy that a well-financed company in Tampa, Florida, has just launched with the goal of making digital pathology easier to use because of the integrated pathologist workflow solution it has developed.
That company is Inspirata, Inc., and it unveiled its products and services in March at the United States Canada Association of Pathology (USCAP) meeting in Boston. Recently, THE DARK REPORT visited Inspirata’s corporate offices to learn more about the company’s business strategy and to see a demonstration of its pathologist workflow solution.
The first aspect that distinguishes Inspirata from the handful of companies offering products in the digital pathology market is that Inspirata is not manufacturing and selling its own hardware, scanners, and associated products. Instead, it is selling a cloud-based pathologist workflow solution.
“It is our view of the digital pathology market that one big barrier to further adoption of digital pathology is the need to provide pathologists with tools that support an integrated workflow,” stated Satish K. Sanan, Chairman and CEO of Inspirata. “Therefore, early on, we decided to focus our efforts on developing software that would make the pathologist more productive. As to hardware, our strategy is to partner with the manufacturers of digital pathology hardware and scanners.”
Executives at Inspirata evaluated the variety of scanners and digital pathology hardware available. “We were impressed with the products that Philips Digital Pathology Solutions manufactures and sells,” noted Sanan. “It turned out that Philips was receptive to the idea of a collaboration with us.
“What is significant about this relationship is that we are working together so that the software and applications that are part of our workflow solution for pathologists are properly interfaced and integrated with the specifications of the scanners and digital pathology hardware Philips manufactures,” he explained. “Our goal is for a pathologist working in our pathology cockpit to have a seamless experience in utilizing all the tools and accessing the images and supporting data needed for diagnosis.”
This is how the formal partnership between Inspirata and Phillips was created. The two companies state that they “are jointly developing, selling and supporting an end-to-end digital pathology workflow solution designed to streamline processes and expedite diagnoses in the nation’s comprehensive cancer centers.”
Inspirata’s first stage strategy is to market its digital pathology workflow solution to academic pathology departments and researchers. These laboratories typically find value in using digital pathology images for research, subspecialist consults, tumor boards, and teaching. This is why both sectors have been the fastest to acquire and use digital pathology systems over the past decade.
However, it would be a mistake to view Inspirata as simply a company that will offer an integrated, cloud-based, workflow solution for pathologists that incorporates a multi-screen pathology cockpit. Along with helping pathologists become more productive, the company has a more comprehensive vision that includes developing advanced diagnostic capabilities to allow pathologists to contribute greater value to patient care.
“What we are discussing with pathologists who look at our services is an end-to-end digital workflow solution,” noted Sanan. “Think of this as made up of three capabilities. The first capability is what we have already discussed, which is improving the pathologist’s workflow in ways that directly decrease the time to diagnosis.
“This integrated workflow system will address everything, including surgery— where biopsies are collected, transportation, accessioning, histology, scanning, and archiving to support the pathologist in the cockpit who is doing the diagnosis and who may need to share these images with colleagues or subspecialist pathologists,” he explained.
“The second capability is to help pathologists increase diagnostic accuracy by providing novel quantifiable prognostic and predictive assays,” Sanan explained.