News, Analysis, Trends, Management Innovations for
Clinical Laboratories and Pathology Groups

Hosted by Robert Michel

News, Analysis, Trends, Management Innovations for
Clinical Laboratories and Pathology Groups

Hosted by Robert Michel
Sign In

Recent Separate Business Transactions by Fujifilm and GE Healthcare Suggest Bullish Outlook for Faster Adoption of Digital Pathology

Fujifilm acquired Inspirata’s Dynamyx digital pathology technology and business while GE Healthcare announced a partnership with Tribun Health in Europe

Clinical pathology laboratories, especially in the US, have been slow to adopt digital imaging systems. But recent industry deals suggest that the market may soon heat up, at least in the eyes of vendors. These collaborators may hope that, by integrating diagnostic data, the accuracy and productivity of anatomic pathologists will improve while also shortening the time to diagnosis.

In a December press release, Tokyo-based Fujifilm announced it acquired the global digital pathology business of Inspirata, including its Dynamyx digital pathology system. Inspirata is a Tampa-based cancer informatics company.

In the press release, Fujifilm stated that 85% of US healthcare organizations use analog systems for pathology. That compares with 86% in Europe and 90% in Asia, the company stated.

“Acquiring Inspirata’s digital pathology business allows Fujifilm to be an even stronger healthcare partner—bridging a technological gap between pathology, radiology, and oncology to facilitate a more collaborative approach to care delivery across the enterprise,” said Fujifilm CEO and president Teiichi Goto in the press release.

The press release cited data from Signify Research, a healthcare technology marketing data firm that is predicting the global market for digital pathology systems would double from $320 million in 2021 to $640 million by 2025.

Fujifilm previously had a deal with Inspirata to sell the Dynamyx system exclusively in the UK, Italy, Spain, Portugal, Belgium, the Netherlands, and Luxembourg, an August press release noted.

Henry Izawa

“A $320 million global industry in 2021 projected to reach $640 million by 2025, the rising number of cancer cases and the demonstrated benefits of digital pathology are fueling significant demand and market growth in the hospital and pharmaceutical industries,” said Henry Izawa (above), president and CEO, Fujifilm Healthcare Americas Corporation, in a press release. “These evolving clinical needs fuel Fujifilm’s investment and innovation in the digital revolution, and we look forward to introducing Dynamyx and its host of unique features and benefits to our Synapse customers and prospects as we strive to enable more efficient medical diagnosis and high-quality care.” (Photo copyright: LinkedIn.)

GE Healthcare Partners with Tribun Health

The Fujifilm acquisition followed an October 18 announcement of a collaboration between GE Healthcare and digital pathology company Tribun Health in Europe to provide an interface between the latter’s digital pathology software and GE Healthcare’s Edison Datalogue image-management system.

In announcing their new collaboration, GE Healthcare and Tribun Health said the integration of their systems—Edison Datalogue and the Tribun Health suite—would foster collaboration between pathologists and clinicians by providing a consolidated location for imaging records. This capability is especially important in oncology, they said.

“The oncology care pathway is one of the most complex with multiple steps involving a variety of specialists, complex tools, frequent decisions, and large data sets,” said GE Healthcare CEO of Enterprise Digital Solutions Nalinikanth Gollagunta in a GE press release. “With this digital pathology collaboration, we continue our journey towards simplifying the oncology care pathway with improved data management, the digitization of pathology, and streamlined data access.”

Tribun Health, based in Paris, France, offers a digital pathology platform that incorporates a camera system, artificial intelligence (AI)-based analysis, remote collaboration, and storage management, plus integration with third-party automation apps.

GE Healthcare claims that Edison Datalogue has the largest share of the Vendor Neutral Archive (VNA) market. That term refers to image archiving systems that use standard formats and interfaces instead of proprietary formats. They are an alternative to the more widely used Picture Archiving and Communications Systems (PACS) used in medical imaging.

The collaboration between the companies “is probably a strategic move to position GE as an integrator of imaging data and digital pathology data in oncology,” said Robert Michel Editor-in-Chief of Dark Daily and its sister publication The Dark Report.

GE’s History with Dynamyx

This is not GE Healthcare’s first foray into digital pathology. In fact, the company had a major hand in launching the very Dynamyx system that Fujifilm recently acquired.

Dynamyx was originally developed by digital pathology technology company Omnyx, LLC, which was a joint venture formed in 2008 between GE Healthcare and the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center (UPMC).

In “GE Healthcare Sells Omnyx to Inspirata,” The Dark Report interviewed Inspirata CEO Satish Sanan who at that time said the acquisition would allow his company to offer “a fully integrated, end-to-end digital pathology solution” in Canada and Europe. But GE Healthcare chose to end the partnership in 2016, citing regulatory uncertainty and variable global demand. Two years later, GE sold Omnyx to Inspirata.

GE Healthcare’s new collaboration with Tribun Health shows that the company “still recognizes the value of the pathology data in cancer diagnosis and wants to be in a position to manage that digital pathology data,” Michel said.

Fujifilm’s Plans

Fujifilm said it will incorporate Dynamyx into its Synapse Enterprise Imaging suite, which includes VNA, Radiology PACS, and Cardiology PACS. “Future releases of Dynamyx will also create opportunities for Fujifilm to support pharmaceutical and contract research organizations with toxicity testing data management for drug development,” the company stated in the press release.

US-based subsidiary Fujifilm Healthcare Americas Corporation will handle future development of the Dynamyx system. In the US, the system is currently cleared for the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for use with Leica’s Aperio AT2 DX scanner and Philips’ Ultra Fast Scanner.

With its recent moves into digital pathology, Fujifilm will be taking on major competitors including Philips, Danaher, and Roche, MedTech Dive reported.

Stephen Beale

Related Information:

Fujifilm Announces Asset Purchase Agreement with Inspirata, Inc. to Acquire the Company’s Digital Pathology Business

Fujifilm Agrees to Buy Inspirata’s Dynamyx in Challenge to Philips for Digital Pathology Market

GE Healthcare Announces Collaboration to Advance Digital Transformation of Pathology

Leica, Philips Come Out on Top in Digital Pathology Systems Market, KLAS Finds

GE Healthcare Sells Omnyx to Inspirata

Will Growth in Number of Tele-ICU Programs in the Nation’s Hospitals Create an Opportunity for Clinical Pathologists to Deliver Added Value?

Aging populations and increase in chronic disease fuel worldwide growth in tele-ICU care models that improve patient outcomes, reduce length of ICU stays, and save hospitals money, according to a study

There’s an interesting trend in healthcare that may prove beneficial to clinical pathologists and medical laboratory scientists. It is increased use by hospitals of remotely-monitored intensive care units (ICUs), which creates the opportunity for clinical laboratory specialists to remotely collaborate with their colleagues in real time.

This new approach in how hospitals alter how they monitor their patients’ care and organize their intensive care units is dubbed Tele-ICU. The technology uses “an off-site command center in which a critical care team [made up of intensivists and critical care nurses] is connected with patients in distant ICUs to exchange health information through real-time audio, visual, and electronic means,” according to a study published by AHIMA (American Health Information Management Association) that sought to identify the “possible barriers to broader adoption.”

This approach to emergency care from a distance employs telemedicine technology and has the potential to impact how in-house medical laboratories provide clinical testing services to hospital physicians.

Tele-ICU Gaining Foothold in Healthcare

Tele-ICUs are making speedy inroads into hospitals and healthcare systems. According to a statistic provided to Healthcare Dive by Advanced ICU Care, a provider of remote ICU monitoring services, an estimated 15% to 20% of hospitals currently use tele-ICU programs.

The use of this “second set of eyes” in ICUs is expected to grow. It is encouraged by an increasing number of studies showing:

  • Improved patient outcomes;
  • Reduced length of ICU stays; and
  • Cost savings.

A Global Market Insights report predicts the tele-ICU market will reach $5 billion in 2023. That’s more than four times 2015’s $1.2 billion level. The rise, the report states, will be fueled by an increase in aging populations and chronic conditions such as cancer, neurological disorders, and other chronic diseases.

The graphic above illustrates the wide range of telehealth services available to hospitals for remote critical and in-home ambulatory care. To remain competitive, medical laboratories not yet engaged in providing testing services to remote care programs will need to adopt the technology. (Image copyright: Philips.)

Intermountain Healthcare’s TeleCritical Care program has paid dividends for the not-for-profit health system. Since 2014, Intermountain has introduced tele-ICUs in 12 of its 22 hospitals that have ICUs, and in five non-system hospitals. A pilot project has expanded the program to two rural critical access hospitals that do not have ICUs. Five more rural hospitals are also expected to join Intermountain Healthcare’s tele-ICU program.

“There’s a tremendous amount we can do from this location without being literally present,” William Beninati, MD, Medical Director for TeleCritical Care at Intermountain Healthcare, stated in a Healthcare Dive article.

Intermountain Healthcare’s analysis of 6,500 of its patients indicates tele-ICU implementation has enabled its community hospitals to treat patients with more complex cases and reduce mortality by 33%. An initial cost analysis was equally favorable, with a $4.4 million decrease in the cost of care provided and a $3.3 million decrease in reimbursement amounts.

“We’re seeing a rapid return on investment on a roughly one-year timeframe,” Beninati told Healthcare Dive.

Helping Hospitals Thrive in Value-based Environments

A study published in CHEST Journal in February 2017 by UMass Memorial Medical Center supports the argument for tele-ICU’s financial benefits. According to a Philips press release announcing the UMass Memorial study results, the researchers found the Philips telehealth eICU Program with centralized bed management control increased case volume by up to 44% and improved contribution margins by up to 665%, or $52.7 million.

Philips’ eICU telehealth technology

Philips’ eICU telehealth technology (above) combines A/V technology, predictive analytics, data visualization, and advanced reporting capabilities to deliver critical information to caregivers at remote locations. (Photo copyright: Philips.)

Other investigations have recognized the value intensivist-centric models can play in improved patient outcomes, such as this 2014 HIMSS study, which compared ICU length-of-stay findings among three primary studies of tele-ICU use that were published from 2009 to 2014. The analysis found tele-ICU programs improved patient outcomes, particularly length of stays (from 6.9 days pre-intervention to 4.2 days post-intervention). And there was “strong evidence” that secondary outcomes such as ICU mortality and hospital mortality also decreased as a result of tele-ICU use.

“An ICU bed costs approximately $2 million to build, and this study demonstrates a significant increase in case volume by better utilizing existing resources,” said Tom Zajac, Chief Executive Officer and Business Leader, Population Health Management, Philips, in the Philips press release. “This shift enables care for expanding populations without having to build and staff additional ICU beds, thus helping hospitals thrive in a value-based care environment.”

Alignment of Attitudes Key to Tele-ICU Success

In a Healthcare Dive articleLou Silverman, CEO of Advanced ICU Care, a provider of tele-ICU services, said the role of a tele-ICU differs based on a hospital’s staffing.

“If intensivists are internally staffed by the hospital, tele-ICU provides a second set of eyes—an additional layer of patient safety in partnership with the bedside team,” Silverman noted. “When intensivists are not readily present, tele-intensivists take a more active role directing patient care, including intervening in urgent situations.”

However, the physician who led the UMass study argues that successful tele-ICU programs requires an alignment of attitudes as well as technology. Craig M. Lilly, MD, Director of the eICU program at UMass Memorial Medical Center, says healthcare providers at the bedside, and those overseeing the ICU from a distance, must communicate well and collaborate on both ends of the telemedicine platform.

“If you apply the technology the way it was designed [to be applied], it can make a difference,” Lilly told mHealthIntelligence. “But if you don’t have collaboration, it’s not going to work. Then you have … relative antagonism.”

As Dark Daily has previously noted, anatomic pathology laboratories were among the first to adopt remote telemedicine models though the use of whole-slide imaging and digital pathology services. As tele-ICU becomes more prevalent, medical laboratories will have the opportunity to use their access to real-time patient lab test data to help the clinicians in tele-ICU centers better manage patient care. This would also be an opportunity for pro-active clinical pathologists to step up with consultative services that contribute to improving patient outcomes.

—Andrea Downing Peck


Related Information:

How Tele-ICUs are Giving Hospitals a Boost

Reducing ICU Length of Stay: The Effect of Tele-ICU Market Size

Tele-Intensive Care

ICU Telemedicine Program Financial Outcomes

Telemedicine Success Requires an Alignment of Incentives (and Attitudes)

New Study Demonstrates Improved Patient Flow and Financial Benefits of Philips eICU Program for Managing Critical Care Populations

Study: Tele-ICU Programs Improve Care While Providing Cost Savings

Survey Reveals US Consumers Choosing PCPs Based on Access to Telehealth Services; Clinical Laboratories Can Capitalize on This Trend

From Micro-hospitals to Mobile ERs: New Models of Healthcare Create Challenges and Opportunities for Pathologists and Medical Laboratories

Wal-Mart Developing Telemedicine Clinics in Selected Stores

Growing Cost of Telemedicine, Telepathology, and Medical Data Transmissions Is a Budget-Buster in Oklahoma

International Telemedicine Gains Momentum, Opening New Markets for Pathologists and Other Specialists

Agilent’s $2.2 Billion-Dollar Acquisition of Dako Likely to Shake Up the Anatomic Pathology and Histology Marketplace

Pathology laboratories that are customers of Dako should take notice of the coming change of ownership

Once again, a major player in histology and anatomic pathology tissue processing has been acquired. Yesterday it was announced that Agilent Technologies Inc. (NYSE: A), of Santa Clara, California, will pay $2.2 billion to acquire Dako, the cancer diagnostics company in Glostrup, Denmark. It is the largest acquisition in Agilent’s 13-year history.

The high price paid for Dako is just the latest confirmation that Wall Street investors consider molecular diagnostics and anatomic pathology to be a high-growth, profitable sector of laboratory medicine. With 2010 revenues of $340 million, Agilent will pay $2.2 billion, which is a 5.8 times multiple of Dako’s annual revenue.

Pathologists and clinical laboratory managers following the histopathology market will recall that Ventana Medical Systems, Inc., was acquired by Roche Holding AG (RHHBY) in February, 2008. The purchase price was approximately $3.4 billion, representing a multiple of 10.2 times Ventana’s 2007 revenue of about $290 million.

Zooming Sales of Defibrillators for Home Use Signal More In-Home Medical Laboratory Testing

Informed consumers fuel double digit increases in sales of defibrillators specifically manufactured for home use

One of the fastest-growing markets in healthcare is the sale of defibrillators to consumers for home use. In fact, independent market research publisher Kalorama Information expects defibrillators for home use to be the number one growth item in the home care products industry through 2014!

Dark Daily believes the rapid growth in defibrillators for home use is an auspicious sign for the clinical laboratory testing industry. It demonstrates the willingness of consumers to take on the responsibilities for sophisticated medical procedures performed at home. That will include a wide range of medical laboratory tests, designed specifically to be used by consumers in their homes.


More Clinical Pathology Laboratories are Purchasing Digital Pathology Systems

Trend to Acquire and Use Digital Pathology Technology is Still in Earliest Stages

Anatomic pathology laboratories continue to purchase and deploy digital pathology systems at a brisk rate. It is confirmation that ever more pathologists are ready to adopt and use digital pathology systems.

Evidence in support of the digital pathology trend comes from a recent press release by one of the leading firms in this field. On December 15, 2010, Aperio Technologies, Inc. announced that it now has more than 700 digital pathology systems operating in 30 countries.