Digital pathology, also referred to as virtual microscopy, is a process wherein computer technology is used to convert an analog microscopic image into the digital format. The process involves creating, managing, analyzing, and interpreting digital information from glass slides utilizing digital pathology scanning solutions. Following this, an image file in digital format is generated, which allows high-resolution viewing, image analysis, and interpretation of digital pathology images.
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The advantages of digital pathology are manifested in the form of accurate diagnosis by a standard procedure for test interpretation and workflow. Digital pathology is gaining preference over its analog counterpart; due to this, the digital pathology systems market will expand at a CAGR of 11.90% from 2014 to 2019. Due to this, the market’s valuation of US$228.9 mn in 2013 will reach US$492.8 mn by 2020.
Digital Pathology Receives Acceptance for Several Applications
Currently digital pathology is at its nascent stage, however, the importance of the procedure has been recognized for diagnostic tests, drug invention and development, and research purposes. With further advancement, digital pathology will overcome other challenges in the healthcare industry pertaining to clinical practices, medical education, and research.
Digital pathology systems are increasingly being used in hospitals, medical universities, research institutions, and government organizations. Using information technology, digital pathology systems are equipped with better connectivity, which is accentuating the uptake of the digital pathology systems market. In many countries around the world, favorable healthcare reforms, coupled with rising healthcare expenditure for improved diagnostics and to lessen the workload of pathologists, are boosting the deployment of digital pathology systems.
However, the high initial setup cost of digital pathology systems and sampling errors are some of the factors that are impeding the market’s growth. The deployment of digital pathology systems is subject to stringent compliances, which need to be passed for these systems to receive approval certification. This is slowing down the uptake of the digital pathology systems market.
Disease Discovery Application Segment Holds Promise for Digital Pathology Systems Market
The global market for digital pathology systems is divided on the basis of technology, application, and geography. By technology, virtual microscopy and telepathology are the segments of this market. Of the two, in 2013, the virtual microscopy segment contributed a larger revenue to the global market and is expected to exhibit a higher growth rate in the foreseeable years. The growth of the virtual microscopy segment is attributed to the rising demand for conversion of microscopic slides into digital format, combined with the increasing preference for employing virtual microscopy for disease investigation and drug discovery.
The disease diagnosis and drug discovery application segment registered the largest market share in the global market in 2013. The availability of accurate diagnostics with few errors and the ability to analyze and interpret information from slides in a short span of time are the reasons for the rising utilization of digital pathology for disease diagnosis and drug discovery applications.
However, the academic research application segment will register a significant growth in the coming years. This is mainly due to an increasing adoption of digital pathology from research communities for the purpose of biomarker profiling and morphological studies of tumors.
Region-wise, North America was the largest market for digital pathology systems in 2013 and will display steadfast growth in the coming years. The increasing use of companion diagnostics and reimbursement benefits for digital pathology diagnostics are the reasons for this. According to the College of American Pathologists, the Medicare program covers most of the digital pathology tests that are carried out for disease diagnosis.