Evaluating the benefits of digital pathology implementation: time savings in laboratory logistics

A. Baidoshvili, A. Bucur, J. van Leeuwen, J. van der Laak, P. Kluin and P. van Diest

Histopathology 2018;73(5):784-794.

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The benefits of digital pathology for workflow improvement and thereby cost savings in pathology, at least partly outweighing investment costs, are being increasingly recognised. Successful implementations in a variety of scenarios have started to demonstrate the cost benefits of digital pathology for both research and routine diagnosis, contributing to a sound business case encouraging further adoption. To further support new adopters, there is still a need for detailed assessment of the impact that this technology has on the relevant pathology workflows, with an emphasis on time-saving. To assess the impact of digital pathology adoption on logistic laboratory tasks (i.e. not including pathologists' time for diagnosis-making) in the Laboratorium Pathologie Oost Nederland, a large regional pathology laboratory in The Netherlands. To quantify the benefits of digitisation, we analysed the differences between the traditional analogue and new digital workflows, carried out detailed measurements of all relevant steps in key analogue and digital processes, and compared the time spent. We modelled and assessed the logistic savings in five workflows: (i) routine diagnosis; (ii) multidisciplinary meeting; (iii) external revision requests; (iv) extra stainings; and (v) external consultation. On average, >19 working hours were saved on a typical day by working digitally, with the highest savings in routine diagnosis and multidisciplinary meeting workflows. By working digitally, a significant amount of time could be saved in a large regional pathology laboratory with a typical case mix. We also present the data in each workflow per task and concrete logistic steps to allow extrapolation to the context and case mix of other laboratories.