Journal Article
. 2019 Jun; 143(12):1545-1555.
doi: 10.5858/arpa.2018-0514-OA.

Implementation of Digital Pathology Offers Clinical and Operational Increase in Efficiency and Cost Savings

Matthew G Hanna 1 Victor E Reuter 1 Jennifer Samboy 1 Christine England 1 Lorraine Corsale 1 Samson W Fine 1 Narasimhan P Agaram 1 Evangelos Stamelos 1 Yukako Yagi 1 Meera Hameed 1 David S Klimstra 1 S Joseph Sirintrapun 1 
  • PMID: 31173528
  •     20 References
  •     15 citations


Context.—: Digital pathology (DP) implementations vary in scale, based on aims of intended operation. Few laboratories have completed a full-scale DP implementation, which may be due to high overhead costs that disrupt the traditional pathology workflow. Neither standardized criteria nor benchmark data have yet been published showing practical return on investment after implementing a DP platform.

Objective.—: To provide benchmark data and practical metrics to support operational efficiency and cost savings in a large academic center.

Design.—: Metrics reviewed include archived pathology asset retrieval; ancillary test request for recurrent/metastatic disease; cost analysis and turnaround time (TAT); and DP experience survey.

Results.—: Glass slide requests from the department slide archive and an off-site surgery center showed a 93% and 97% decrease, respectively. Ancillary immunohistochemical orders, compared in 2014 (52%)-before whole slide images (WSIs) were available in the laboratory information system-and 2017 (21%) showed $114 000/y in anticipated savings. Comprehensive comparative cost analysis showed a 5-year $1.3 million savings. Surgical resection cases with prior WSIs showed a 1-day decrease in TAT. A DP experience survey showed 80% of respondents agreed WSIs improved their clinical sign-out experience.

Conclusions.—: Implementing a DP operation showed a noteworthy increase in efficiency and operational utility. Digital pathology deployments and operations may be gauged by the following metrics: number of glass slide requests as WSIs become available, decrease in confirmatory testing for patients with metastatic/recurrent disease, long-term decrease in off-site pathology asset costs, and faster TAT. Other departments may use our benchmark data and metrics to enhance patient care and demonstrate return on investment to justify adoption of DP.

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