Pathology is the study of diseases and one of the major fields in medicine & diagnosis. It is mainly concerned with the cause, origin and study of different diseases. It is done by examining bodily fluids, tissues, & organs. It is currently divided into eight main areas of study. With the advent of Information Technology and the digital age, a new field has sprung up – the digital telepathology market. As the name suggests, it is pathology with the help of telecommunications technology. As opposed to general pathology which is conducted at a short-range, digital telepathology is typically performed at distance. Pathology image-rich data is transferred great distances for the purpose of diagnoses, education or even research purposes. The term was coined by Dr Ronald S. Weinstein in 1986 and he also spoke about the potential of this in a journal publication back then. He is rightly known as the “father of telepathology”. The digital telepathology market is mainly focused on serving the need for medical research, education, subspecialty pathology, histopathology diagnoses, second opinion diagnosis, and also that of frozen section specimens.
Digital Telepathology Market Drivers
One of the main drivers of the digital telepathology market is bound to be the information technology wave sweeping across the world. Western countries already have a strong digital infrastructure, but Internet penetration is rapidly increasing in the developing world. This can enable pathologists to examine, study, and diagnose patients not only in remote locations within the country but also anywhere else in the world. A second factor is a flexibility and convenience offered to seek a second opinion. The digital telepathology market will enable pathologists in any part of the globe to consult their peers in other countries, which will ensure an appropriate diagnosis. According to the W.H.O, cancer cases are expected to increase by nearly 70% in the next twenty years with nearly 1.4 million of them being misdiagnosed. Thus, quick (and appropriate) diagnoses will be critical to saving millions of lives. The third driver is expected to be increasing digitisation in the field of research. Digital pathology is relevant in the field of medical education, histopathology and even for examining frozen section specimens. With the help of digital technology, pathologists could convert physical data into digital files, eliminating the need to physically store it. This would also help them drive down their cost and improve efficiency.
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Digital Telepathology Market Restraints
There are a few challenges faced by the digital telepathology market, one of the biggest being cost. Digital telepathology equipment is very expensive which will almost certainly be a problem in developing countries. Government reimbursements are typically unavailable there which makes the initial investment quite difficult. Another issue is regulatory concerns. Digital telepathology walks a fine line between both medicine & technology so each country would have different laws concerning both. There can also be resistance from pathologists themselves. Few pathologists today can truly operate these systems and they might even be unwilling to trust the results. These are some of the reasons why the digital telepathology market is still a niche one at present.
Digital Telepathology Market Key Regions
The digital telepathology market serves the following main geographic regions – North America, the E.U., Asia-Pacific, MENA and the rest of the world. North America is the largest market and is anticipated to show moderate growth over the next decade. This is due to a strong healthcare system, regulations like the Affordable Care Act, the high prevalence of various cancers and an ageing population requiring medical assistance. It is also boosted by world-class medical education & research facilities, eager adoption of technology and government reimbursement being available in these critical fields. Europe is the second largest market but is expected to remain flat or post negative growth. However, the high prevalence of cancer in this region will ensure that there remains a strong future for the digital telepathology market there. Asia-Pacific is anticipated to be the market of the future mainly because of China, India and Japan.
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Digital Telepathology Market Key Market Players
Some companies involved in the digital telepathology market include Leica Biosystems, Ventana Medical Systems, Inc., GE Healthcare, Olympus Corporation, Philips Healthcare, MikroSkan Technologies, Inc. and many others.