The digital transformation of pathology is being taken up at different rates worldwide. One area where considerable growth has taken place is with the U.K. National Health Service. This is crystallized in a new report.
Globally the digital transformation of pathology is gaining momentum. This is being seen across health and pharmaceutical sectors; together with education establishments and contract research organizations. One report puts the the worldwide market for digital pathology solutions at $5.7 billion.
As a sign of the importance of the technology the biggest single health employer in the world — England’s National Health Service (NHS) — published an overview called “Digital First: Clinical Transformation through Pathology Innovation”. The document describes precisely how healthcare can review and apply new technology to deal with the ever increasing demand for pathology services.
The title of the report carries with it the central message, as the text states: “Digital First is focused on harnessing the potential of digital channels to enable patients and healthcare professionals to interact in different ways, reducing face-to-face contact where this is not considered by clinician or patient to be necessary.”
While improved turnaround times and greater throughput are central to the NHS driver, the report also highlights the importance of storing digital images, and using these are evidence with any report made by a pathologist. In addition, computerized quantitative analysis can be used for prognostic scores and remote-equipped technology also allows the pathologist to interpret frozen sections some distance away from the laboratory. There are also wins for the patient, according to the report in terms of data access. Here people will feel more in control of their health through better access to test results.
Speaking with the magazine The Pathologist about the report, Jo Martin, who is the national clinical director of pathology for NHS England, stated: “Pathology is leading the way in the use of digital technology, with the automated disciplines at the leading edge.”
Reasons for the NHS promoting the digital message include the advantages for improving communications, procedures, workload and quality. There are other advantages too, which Digital Journal has explored in a companion article titled “Pathology services are embracing digital technology.”
Virtual reality therapy continues to show success
Virtual reality is continuing to show success as a therapeutic method, an outcome that is increasingly attracting health organizations and digital health startups to the healthcare space.
Virtual reality therapy is a catch-all term describing the use of a virtual headset as a tool for psychological or occupational therapy. The primary aim is to allow patients to navigate through digitally created environments, which medical professionals have reviewed, and to complete a series of specially designed tasks.
One popular example of the application of the technology is an alternative form of exposure therapy; here a patient interacts with harmless virtual representations of some traumatic stimuli, with the aim of reducing fear responses. A second example is with the treatment of post-traumatic stress disorder.
There are other medical applications, such as with aiding stroke patients to regain muscle control or to improve social skills in those diagnosed with autism. These examples illustrated how scientists have used virtual reality therapies for cognitive therapies and structural desensitization of patients suffering from a variety of psychological disorders.
Therapists in Singapore have also undertaken studies that show virtual reality can be used to address computer gaming and internet addition. Publishing in the journal Technology and Healthcare, researchers described how virtual reality therapy can be combined with more traditional cognitive behavioral therapy to help patients.
Care needs to be taken, however, not overstate the case of virtual reality therapy. As Brighton and Suxxes Medical School researchers recently wrote: “Outcomes may overstate the impact of virtual reality therapy and technological novelty, while not fully unpacking hidden digital effects. A wide set of agreed, flexible, and patient-centered outcome measures are required to establish positive clinical baseline.” This position indicates that virtual reality therapy remains an emerging digital health technology.
For a decade or so, virtual reality has been confined to the more expensive side of healthcare but more affordable mobile virtual reality headsets such as Samsung Gear is taking VR more mainstream. With cheaper access to physical hardware there are more opportunities to apply telemedicine and decentralize mental health treatment by allowing medical professionals to reach patients anywhere in the world, virtually.
This has also opened the door for several startups to invest in virtual reality therapy treatments.
Spanish startup Psious has developed an exposure therapy tool to address phobias, allowing psychologists to create the right environment for exposure therapy while at the same time permitting therapists to obtain a real-time look at what their patient sees. Through this approach the therapist can adjust the experience as needed.
A Swiss startup called MindMaze is working on a virtual reality program for paralysis patients. The company intends to simulate functional body parts for people with paralyzed limbs. This idea is more complex and is supported by some psychologists, but not by others.
Finally, Seattle startup Firsthand Technology is assessing how VR can be used to treat pain. The company’s pain relief application called SnowWorld is designed to help patience recovering in hospital burn wards explore a world of snow men and forget about pain.
5 ways to improve supply chains with digital transformation
Keeping supply chains in control and competitive is a key for any company sending physical products nationally or internationally.
In a competitive market, supply chain managers seek to create net value, build a competitive infrastructure, utilize available worldwide logistics and try to meet supply with demand.
Digital technology presents efficiencies and costs reductions to maintain a competitive edge. Here are 5 key benefits for those who manage supply chains.
Digital Transformation of Supply Chains
- Big data together with advanced analytics provide insights and improve decision making. Every point of data is an interaction that builds a company’s understand in of their customers, suppliers and vendors. Supply Chain Drive uses the examples of “an item is picked off a shelf, a customer leaving a website, an online review is written, a damaged product is returned.”If parts of the supply chain network are willing to share this information digitally, then useful material can be built up, as discussed in this article published in the International Journal of Production Economics.Collected information can also be integrated into optimization tools and used for activities like demand forecasting, integrated business planning and supplier collaboration and risk analytics.
- Sophisticated sensors track and collect information, provide safeguards for goods and protect against counterfeiting among other things in supply chains. This is a hot topic in the pharmaceutical world where up to 20 percent of distributed medicines may be fake — digital supply chains can help identify fraudulent shipments. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has recently produced new guidance on this subject for medicines manufacturers, as Pharmaceutical Microbiology has reported.
- Customer engagement: The selection of the right piece of software to enable customer engagement is key to achieving “retention, lower operating costs, increased sales and faster growth,” according to this recent article in Software Advice.Software must be mobile first. As the European Commission points out mobility is seen as a disruptive technology for business and it allows new ways of working in “an ATAWAD (Anytime Anywhere Any Device) environment.” Examples systems include Darius, which collects customer feedback, analyzes it and sends reports, and Ambrosus, which has put in place a blockchain-based ecosystem for the supply chain.
- Cloud technology solutions for the supply chain can provide business process gains and works best when a large number of suppliers and customers agree to share data over a cloud.According to an article in Forbes, companies that use an Electronic Data Interchange (EDI) to communicate throughout their supply chain are more efficient than those reliant upon emails, faxes and phone calls. Through an EDI two different companies can electronically exchange documents (such as purchase orders, invoices, shipping notices, and many others). Once the supply network is connected via a cloud then analytics, cognitive equipment and smart apps can aid decision making.
- AI and cognitive computing will provide significant advantages to those organizations that embrace them. AI will enable organizations to shift through large amounts of structured or unstructured data; assess detailed supplier assessments of a single supplier or a group of suppliers; and for assessing and calculating risk. There are also potential gains to be made from using artificial intelligence to find new ways of operating, to provide new insights, and to uncover new opportunities. Companies like IBM are developing cognitive computing systems to support supply chains.
These five examples show how technology can help, now or in the near future, to improve the efficiency of the supply chain. The adoption of such technology needs to fit in with a clear business strategy. With a clear direction in place, the promises that digitalization of the supply chain promises are considerable.
9 out of 10 digital transformation projects will fail
Digital transformation is now a widely accepted term in enterprises across every industry. While leaders have embraced the idea, a report has found businesses are struggling to implement transformation strategies, with just one in ten projects successful.
The survey from Couchbase found that 90 percent of digital transformation projects have either fallen below planning expectations, delivered only minor improvements or altogether failed. The NoSQL database vendor surveyed 450 CIOs, CTOs and digital leaders at companies with over 1,000 employees in the U.S., U.K., France and Germany.
According to the survey respondents, problems usually occur due to a lack of business agility. The scope, scale and requirements of digital projects can shift significantly during their implementation. When these projects are completed in the context of a large enterprise, they are limited by existing processes that don’t possess the same flexibility.
This has created a disparity between businesses in traditional industries and start-ups focused on tech. Start-ups tend to be implicitly focused on the aims of transformation: improved productivity and an extended customer experience. Larger businesses stand to benefit the most from digital transformation but often find themselves constrained by the nature of their industry.
Specific challenges cited by the survey respondents included a lack of preparation within the organisation and a restrictive reliance on legacy technology. A combination of these problems means most companies find themselves unable to implement their digital transformation strategies, even if the original plan is sound.
This matters because an overwhelming majority of the business leaders surveyed agreed a successful digital transformation will be critical to the future success of their company. A full 73 percent said their industry is being disrupted by new technology, with a further 16 percent saying they expect a transition to be just a matter of time.
The consequences for firms that don’t adapt could be severe. Couchbase previously reported that 54 percent of companies expect to fail if they miss the impending digital transformation revolution. Companies are desperately trying to avoid being made irrelevant by the next Amazon or Uber. However, with only a small minority of digital projects succeeding, the CIOs and CTOs responsible for their implementation are becoming increasingly concerned.
Couchbase warned that enterprises are facing a “stark choice” as they move to put their transformation plans into motion. Companies need to balance the maintenance of their legacy systems with the introduction of modern customer-first alternatives. As entire industries migrate to digital approaches, studying success stories will be vital to installing satisfactory implementations.
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