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IVD Trends to Watch: AI and the Future of Digital Pathology

Artificial intelligence (AI) is growing at a fast pace due to the adoption of AI-based technologies. There is a move toward connected health, which includes AI. AI has proved to be an invaluable tool in assisting physicians in caring for their patients. The advanced capabilities of algorithms are serving to reduce workloads and provide testing solutions. It is anticipated that increased use of machine learning and AI will help decrease errors and advance in vitro diagnostics (IVD) technology. A growing area of opportunity for AI in healthcare is digital pathology, which plays to the strengths of AI because it is image-based.

Digital pathology, also known as whole slide imaging, is a branch of pathology where tissue specimens are digitized using a scanner before examination. Digitization of pathology offers a new way to get more information from tissue samples. While biopsy or sample collection techniques, laboratory workflow, and final reporting with treatment decisions largely remain unchanged, the slide review phase of the pathology process is conducted digitally. This involves using a display and viewing software, either in addition to or in combination with a traditional microscope.

According to Kalorama Information, digital pathology is ushering in the “big data” era of medical care, often referred to as computational pathology. Digital pathology products were among the first to come to market with data interpretation applications. Recent years have seen the use of AI interpretation apps extended to a broader range of products, including microbiology, disease genetics, and cancer precision medicine.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, digital pathology gained attention as a way for pathologists to read, evaluate, and collaborate remotely. Today, global market sales hover around $1 billion, and Kalorama Information forecasts global digital pathology revenue could approach $1.5 billion by 2026, bolstered by its AI connectivity and ongoing opportunities that will allow pathologists to improve efficiency and productivity. Kalorama’s market estimate and forecast include digital pathology hardware, software, and related services for clinical applications.

Though digital pathology is not a segment in the regular IVD arena, it is nevertheless an important add on to the market as described in Kalorama’s The Worldwide Market for In Vitro Diagnostic Tests, 16th Edition.