Health IT Spotlight: HIMSS18 Digital Pathology Panel Interview – 3 key takeaways

by Molly True
April 19, 2018

Hard to believe but HIMSS18 is behind us now. It was a terrific show with a lot of talk about how digital transformation is impacting Health Information Technology (HIT) and healthcare in both expected, and unexpected, ways. Our team led a panel discussion Preparing Your HIT Infrastructure for Digital Pathology and Beyond, about network and infrastructure requirements to support the data elements 30–60x larger than digitized radiology images. Including access, analysis, storage, disaster recovery, security and regulatory requirements.

Our panel – Dr. Cody Bumgardner and Jan Bates of the University of Kentucky School of Medicine/UK Healthcare, and Tony Thomas, president and CEO of Windstream — did a follow up interview with Colin Hung, editor of Healthcare Scene which put digital pathology, the impact of healthcare transformation overall, and relationship to patient and staff experience, into sharp perspective.

Colin Hung, editor of Healthcare Scene; Jan Bates, Systems Operations Director, University of Kentucky Healthcare; Dr. Cody Bumgardner, Prof. of Pathology and Director of Informatics, University of Kentucky School of Medicine; and Tony Thomas, President & CEO, Windstream

I’d encourage you to take a look, but if you need a quick summary, here are three key takeaways:

  • Network infrastructure is critical to transforming healthcare
    Healthcare enterprise networks need to be aligned to where you are going in transforming your healthcare organization. The network cannot be an afterthought and should be a part of the strategic plan for digital transformation initiatives. When network capabilities are not aligned with digitization solutions like digital pathology, it impacts the ability of those initiatives to be most effective.
  • Pathology reports are rich with actionable data
    Digitizing pathology reports provides an opportunity to analyze patient data not previously available to make computational sense of in order to positively impact patient care. Previously the technology wasn’t mature enough to digitize pathology data, and network infrastructure wasn’t cost effective to effectively manage data elements of this scale (30-60x larger than digitized radiology images). Once digitized, it can be analyzed with machine learning and artificial intelligence tools to create actionable insights with powerful implications for patient care and experience.
  • Tackle digital pathology incrementally
    Radiology went digital in the 1990s but everything – as illustrated by University of Kentucky Healthcare’s experience – didn’t go digital at once. They tackled digital radiology incrementally, which allowed them to spread the required infrastructure enhancements over multiple years. They plan to tackle digital pathology the same way and target a few initial use cases and plan strategically for the needed infrastructure investments over time.

Is your HIT organization ready for digital transformation?

Fortunately, network technology is advancing sufficiently to keep up with the demands of digital pathology. In healthcare IT – as in all other forms of IT supporting dramatically new, innovative, data-intensive initiatives – software-defined WAN solutions, like our own fully-managed SD-WAN Concierge, provide the affordable bandwidth and increased uptime required by digital pathology, and similarly intensive, time sensitive applications. We talked with a variety of HIT leaders at the show about this and would welcome the opportunity to learn about your organization’s goals and discuss ways to help start or accelerate your digital transformation journey.