One of the primary reasons is the limited access to pathology, which is critical to diagnosing disease and ensuring that patients receive the right treatment. Traditional pathology has been practiced with the pathologist, the microscope, and the glass slide in the same location. This requires pathologists to travel from urban medical centers to distant, rural locations—a costly and time-consuming endeavor, which ultimately limits the pathology services that reach rural areas. Moreover, there has been a sharp decline in the pathology workforce while the workload continues to surge with the increase in diseases like cancer, making accurate and timely diagnosis crucial. This has placed immense pressure on the pathology community.
Against this challenging backdrop, a California-based firm is transforming the conventional pathology workflow, allowing pathologists to reach more patients, more quickly. “Our mission is to ensure that every patient gets the right diagnosis from the right expert at the right time, regardless of where in the world they live,” says Martin Stuart, president and CEO of Mikroscan Technologies. Mikroscan’s compact and portable telepathology platform can be deployed anywhere—in clinics, hospitals, and research institutions—while the pathologist can work from a remote location, ensuring every patient, no matter how distant, benefits from pathology services and receives timely treatment.
A Quantum Leap for Pathology Devices
Mikroscan has disrupted the traditional pathology practice with its intuitive, cost-effective, and flexible telepathology solutions that fit into existing workflows with no requirement for expensive infrastructure modifications. Their suite of solutions comprises compact and portable devices that can be placed in any location, including rural hospitals, hospital carts, and histology vehicles. “Our device is a robotic microscope in a box that can be controlled from any location over the internet,” mentions Stuart. All a technician needs to do is collect and prepare the samples, load the glass slides in the system, and alert the pathologist that the case is ready to be examined. Using the full-function remote control feature, the pathologist controls the robot, selecting the slides, navigation order, focus, and illumination just as they would with a standard microscope. Because there is no learning curve to use the system, a pathologist can read slides and provide interpretations efficiently. “Our customers—hospitals and clinics—typically see a very rapid return on their investment as they reduce turnaround time on cases and expand the reach of their services, all without changing their workflow,” states Stuart.
The Compelling Advantages
Mikroscan’s innovative solutions have shown significant benefits in frozen section procedures, with real-time assessment of tumor margins that improve the process of diagnosis and treatment. The traditional method of lumpectomy involves invasive surgery to collect samples for examination. It takes several days to get the results, and only then will the patient know if the surgery was successful in achieving a clean tumor margin. If unsuccessful, the patient will need to undergo a second surgery to remove the remaining tumor cells. But with Mikroscan’s solutions, the pathologist can perform real-time interactive diagnosis while the patient is undergoing surgery, enabling the surgeon to ensure that all tumor cells are removed completely, eliminating the need for a second surgery. “Mayo Clinic found that they could reduce the re-operation rate by 25 percent in breast cancer alone,” mentions Stuart. “It not only proves helpful for patients to avoid repeated surgeries but it is estimated that the payers and providers would save a little over $18 million a year.”
Where Mikroscan’s prowess comes to fore is in the fine needle aspiration realm. Mikroscan’s devices help pathologists perform Rapid On-site Evaluation of Adequacy (ROSE), enabling them to assess cell samples collected from a biopsy in real-time.
Mikroscan also makes a colossal contribution to the quality assurance of diagnostic results through secondary consultations. According to prominent researchers and publications, a secondary consultation alone can reduce cancer diagnostic error rates by 50 to 80 percent. Mikroscan’s remote and efficient solutions make secondary consultations easy. With the ability to share digital images of the glass slides and enable quick evaluations, a pathologist with disease-specific expertise can re-examine the case remotely. These interpretations can be compared with the initial reports to confirm the diagnosis. “Our solutions help uplift the quality of services for patients as well as the standards of the institutions,” remarks Stuart.
Our mission is to ensure that every patient gets the right diagnosis from the right expert at the right time, regardless of where in the world they live
Stuart draws attention to the COVID-19 pandemic, which required the social distancing of many pathologists, reducing their physical presence at hospitals. This slowed traditional pathology work until the FDA relaxed conventional norms, allowing pathologists to read cases from home. Mikroscan’s devices proved to be a boon for the healthcare community to fast-track quality diagnoses, as pathologists were able to leverage remote login to examine cases.
Leveraging Technology for Superior Results
One of the key advantages of Mikroscan’s solution is that it is much more economical than other vendors. Healthcare providers can adopt top-notch digital pathology infrastructure at affordable rates using Mikroscan’s systems, which in turn benefits the patients, creating a win-win scenario for all.
Mikroscan’s solutions also connect through many HIPAA-compliant, remote access options, all of them stringently evaluated to ensure optimum security and performance. The Department of Veteran Affairs has certified Mikroscan to deploy their systems in all VA medical centers in the U.S., signifying the company’s efforts to guarantee security to their clients and patients.
With today’s increased dependency on technology, Stuart is optimistic about the roadmap of the company’s tech-aligned services. In fact, Mikroscan recently launched a new product that has increased its systems’ capacity and throughput, accommodating up to 20 slides. The company is also focusing efforts on decision support tools that use artificial intelligence. These AI-enabled algorithmic assessments of specimens will increase workflow efficiency, enabling pathologists to arrive at results quickly.
In a nutshell, Mikroscan has overcome conventional pathology complexities and enabled pathology services to reach the masses, helping improve healthcare. “We have ensured that location is no bar for delivering proper care to patients. This is distributed pathology; this is the future,” concludes Stuart.