THERE IS A NEW PLAYER in the market for anatomic pathology laboratory information systems (APLIS). This gives pathology groups a new option when it is time to upgrade or replace their existing APLIS.
It also brings a new competitor into the existing market for anatomic pathology (AP) software. In recent years, the dominant players in that market have been three products. One is Cerner Corporation’s CoPathPlus. The other two are sold by Sunquest Information Systems, Inc., and are named Sunquest CoPathPlus and Sunquest Powerpath.
On May 28, PathCentral of Irvine, California, announced the availability of its APLIS in two versions. Its full-featured product is called AP Anywhere. For smaller pathology groups, PathCentral offers AP Anywhere Express, which it says is a basic system designed to meet the needs of pathology groups with as few as one or two pathologists.
Cloud-Based AP Software
What will be noteworthy for pathologists are two facts about PathCentral’s software offerings. First, AP Anywhere is already in use at a number of well-known national pathology companies. Second, this is the only APLIS to offer TC/PC (technical component/professional component) split and it’s available as SaaS, or software-as-a-service.
“Because they are cloud-based software offerings, AP Anywhere and its smaller brother—AP Anywhere Express—has certain advantages over client-server software,” stated Jaye Connolly, CEO of PathCentral. “One such benefit is that our SaaS service facilitates work on tablets and iPads. This allows pathologists to work literally anywhere.”
PathCentral believes its biggest market opportunity is to sell to smaller pathology groups. Of the nation’s approximately 3,300 pathology groups, more than 60% are comprised of four or fewer pathologists.
Small Pathology Groups
Small pathology groups have limited capital to invest in software, for example. They also do not need an APLIS that has all the features, functions, and interfaces required by larger pathology groups that may be serving multiple hospitals and a large number of office-based physician clients.
“With continued reimbursement cuts, pathologists in small or start-up practices want a system they can use to grow their outreach business,” observed Connolly. “Typically they have contracts with a community hospital and will serve a number of their own clients, which can include specialist physicians such as oncologists and dermatologists.
“AP Anywhere Express was specifically designed to meet the informatics needs of these smaller pathology practices,” she continued. “They don’t have to invest any capital up front to buy a software system and, as a cloud-based, stand- alone APLIS, it can immediately be operational without the need for installation or interfaces with other systems.
“The two cloud-based versions of AP Anywhere have all the same functionality of the client-server version of APLIS that all the larger labs have run for 14 years,” Connolly explained. “Thirteen of the top labs in the United States currently use the client-server model of our AP Anywhere.
Long Pedigree in Market
“Those larger pathology lab companies include Agendia, Avero Diagnostics, Clarient, Genoptix, Genzyme, Neogenomics, and US Labs, among others,” she said. “While the client-server version works for these companies, software is shifting to the cloud because the SaaS-based versions are easier for customers and software vendors to maintain.
“The cloud-based version of our APLIS is AP Anywhere,” explained Connolly. “The smaller version of AP Anywhere is AP Anywhere Express. The difference between the two cloud-based versions is that AP Anywhere Express has fewer modules and is about half the price.
“AP Anywhere Express has many of the same features of AP Anywhere but they are not activated unless the pathology group needs them,” she continued. “The express version has modules for accessioning, billing, cytology, management reporting, and surgical. Most small pathology practices only need those five modules.
“The surgical module includes grossing, histology, professional, and transcription,” Connolly noted. “A subscription to the surgical module includes those four capabilities.”
New Pathology Capabilities
The arrival of a cloud-based APLIS shows how technology can provide new clinical and service capabilities to pathology groups with just a few pathologists. In that sense, PathCentral is building a solution that helps level the playing field for community pathologists. It is providing technology that supports new and different ways for small pathology groups to deliver added-value anatomic pathology services that generate significant revenue.
PathCentral Bought Firm With Pathology Software
IT WAS AN ACQUISITION of a pathology software company that brought PathCentral into the pathology informatics business. That happened in 2010 when the company acquired eTeleNext.
Founded in 2002, eTeleNext was described as “a developer of anatomic pathology systems for the national reference laboratory marketplace.”
“PathCentral’s strategy was to develop a robust pathology information technology platform that would be based in the cloud,” stated Jaye Connolly, CEO at PathCentral. “This software would provide community pathologists with a robust lab information system while at the same time enabling PathCentral to create a professional network that allows pathologists to participate in on-line consulting from anywhere in the world.
“Community pathologists should have the same opportunities to develop their business as larger labs,” she continued. “Our professional network was created with the goal of giving them a way to refer cases for subspecialty consultation or offer subspecialty services to other pathologists within the network and generate revenue from these activities.
“Digital pathology images make this easy to accomplish,” added Connolly. “When combined with cloud-based services, community pathologists have an opportunity to generate revenue from a variety of sources while still fulfilling their mission to serve the community where they are located.”