Even before the COVID-19 pandemic digital pathology was growing fast. Now digital workflows have increased in relevance for healthcare providers everywhere. The core technologies and products have long since been available but applying them in practice within hospital workflows takes time and effort, two commodities which are now extremely scarce. To make adoption easier healthcare providers need to have access to a variety of different potential options, and products should not come bundled with exclusive proprietary systems.
It’s attractive for companies to dream up entire platforms and ecosystems focused solely on feeding their sales funnel. Companies want to be seen to be solving all of the problems in digital pathology. However, if our experience with COVID-19 has taught us anything, the number of diseases out there is too great for any one actor to handle, no matter how big or well-established they are. With the task at hand being so enormous and far from fully understood, attempting to claim sole rights can impede the progress of both technical innovation and knowledge sharing.
Understandably there are constraints as to how quickly any changes to existing workflows can be implemented. The burdens of passing applicable legislation, the administrative and financial expense and of course the age-old challenge of overcoming human resistance to change, all slow down progress. There are also nuances to overcome in workflows, budgets and in the general agility of hospitals and clinics when it comes to procuring new equipment, let alone implementing entire new systems. Diversity in needs, requires diversity in solutions.
Change takes time, big change takes longer. What is needed now are easy-to-adopt, platform-agnostic solutions to enable hospitals to go digital at their own pace and on their own terms. With the pandemic exerting pressure on the schedule, decision-making becomes more both more difficult and stressful. Nobody likes to be told to their face that their way of doing something is backwards. It doesn’t take much to decide to stick to the old ways, even if the output is much lower than the promise of digital, when it is served with the looming prospect of having to change your ways. Sometimes a gradual approach is better than a complete overhaul to keep moving ahead.
As the world wrestles with COVID-19, every day we learn of new examples in which people have pulled together to help one another in a show of extraordinary human spirit. Now is the time to collaborate on an equivalent basis to pave the way for digital pathology. With digital workflows having emerged as an accepted method of delivering healthcare during the pandemic, we must strive to create the right first impression and a way of doing things easy to embrace as a new standard.