Changes to profession are working their way into the clinical marketplace
Despite rapid advances in many areas of diagnostic services, most pathologists practicing in community hospitals continue to enjoy a familiar daily routine that has varied little over the past decade. That is about to quickly change, if Dark Daily’s assessment of new technologies and new market forces is accurate.
At least four powerful forces are poised to radically alter the daily workflow and activities of surgical pathologists in community practice settings:
- One, Dark Daily predicts that there will be a rapid uptake in clinical practice of new molecular assays for primary diagnosis of a growing number of cancers. Many of these new molecular assays will involve computer-aided diagnosis of the image, or will incorporate pattern recognition features to guide the pathologists to a very precise answer. The net effect of these developments is that surgical pathologists will rely less on the microscope as the primary tool. Rather, more cancer cases will be diagnosed using a combination of standard microscopy and other assays or techniques.
- Two, Dark Daily predicts that revolutionary changes in the histology laboratory will finally address the variability in the quality of specimen processing and preparation-both within a histology laboratory and across other histology laboratories within a region. Key trends here are use of Lean and similar work flow optimization methods in support of histology automation solutions.
- Three, Dark Daily also predicts that these changes in histology will end the reign of “batch” processing of specimens, often using overnight processing methods. Instead, histology laboratories will be organized around single-piece work flow, using rapid processing methods. In turn, that will change the daily routine of pathologists served by the histology laboratory. No longer will they start their day with a tall stack of yesterday’s case referrals and the pressure to work through the cases as early in the day as possible. Instead, rapid histology processing in small batches and single piece work flow will feed same-day case referrals to the pathologist evenly from morning through afternoon.
- Four, Dark Daily further predicts a surprisingly fast take-up of digital imaging and even fully-digital pathology systems by smaller pathology group practices. Generation Y pathologists will be eager advocates of this transition within private practice settings, as much of their medical training relied almost exclusively on digital images.
Pathologists and pathology practice administrators who want to stay ahead of these forceful trends will find insights and answers at the upcoming Executive War College on Lab and Pathology Management, which takes place on April 28-29, 2009 at the Sheraton Hotel in New Orleans. (more…)