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Q&A: Bill Lacy on Fujifilm’s Entrance into the Digital Pathology Market

On January 23, 2023, Fujifilm completed its asset purchase of the Dynamyx business and welcomed the digital pathology business, technology, customers and employees to the Fujifilm family as part of the company’s medical informatics business.  

To celebrate Fujifilm’s entrance into the digital pathology space, we sat down with Bill Lacy, FUJIFILM Healthcare Americas Corporation’s senior vice president of medical informatics to learn more.  

Can you explain the strategy behind adding digital pathology to Fujifilm’s current enterprise imaging offering?   

At Fujifilm, we are devoted to healthcare IT innovation and supporting healthcare enterprises to manage all the imaging content coming in from the care continuum. As the healthcare market is constantly evolving, so does Fujifilm’s Synapse® Enterprise Imaging portfolio.  

Pathology is one of the last areas in medical imaging to move digital, and as other large imaging service lines, like radiology and cardiology, are already allowing for rapid image visualization and collaboration across large regional and national healthcare enterprises it is time for pathology to accelerate the transition to digital. As a leader and innovator in enterprise imaging FUJIFILM is perfectly suited to drive the digital pathology transformation. This began with a global partnership with Inspirata, which grew over the last few years as we witnessed the successful compatibility of the Dynamyx digital pathology technology with our award-winning Synapse Enterprise Imaging portfolio.   

The scanner neutrality of the Dyanmyx product fits well with our portfolio of vendor agnostic healthcare IT solutions, and the feedback from joint Inspirata / Fujifilm customers, which includes some of our most strategic partners, was very compelling and spoke the strength of their software. We now will look to bring our FUJIFILM informatics technology strengths and expertise in the areas of storage, workflow, integrations, AI and cloud to help accelerate the transition and remove barriers to digitizing pathology. Investing in Dynamyx and creating our own digital pathology division was a natural and strategic next step for Fujifilm to take the business to the next level.  

With the integration, Fujifilm has established a digital pathology division of our medical informatics business. The creation of a digital pathology division expands further Fujifilm’s robust Synapse Enterprise Imaging offering. Dynamyx has now been rebranded Synapse Pathology – and we were truly ecstatic to kick off 2023 welcoming new technology, employees and customers to the Fujifilm family.   

Studies show that the digital pathology market could be worth $640 million by 2025, up from $320 million last year. Why do you think it’s growing?  

Pathology has been using the same workflow for decades, and without digital pathology, innovations in process efficiency, precision medicine and AI, faster results and wide area slide accessibility cannot be achieved. Even without transforming to fully digital just the addition of digital pathology capability opens up so many new workflow options, which already makes digital pathology a competitive necessity in larger health systems. Additionally, remote working, which became more mainstream in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, is also pushing digital pathology forward, and changing the recruitment dynamic for additional or new pathologist. 

However, while the digital pathology market is expected to increase over the next few years, the adoption of this technology has been slow to take hold at pathology practices and clinical laboratories. The expense of adding scanners, pathology pacs and IT storage, while not able to replace the glass slide creation process has been an obstacle for much of the market. This has been changing quickly, especially in the regional health systems where the addition of a digital pathology capability is now a necessity. We saw the same dynamic in the early days of the ‘PACS era’, radiology customers saw a big expense to moving to PACS. Like pathology that started with the need for tele-radiology and a remote reading option. As radiologists leaned on the new workflow options and benefits to care of more immediate access to imaging from any location, the realization that everyone needed to go digital to streamline workflows and be more efficient began to grow. Eventually it was clear that trying to manage hybrid environments was just delaying the inevitable future state. I believe that will happen with digital pathology as well.  

Furthermore, vendor-neutral archive (VNA) software and cloud storage are areas that will be very important to digital pathology adoption moving forward as they will help break down some of the last barriers to taking digital pathology from early adoption to mainstream. The cost of large data storage continues to come down, the image life cycle management tools of VNA are perfect for more efficiently managing storage tiers from the highest performing most expensive storage technology to longer term content storage to cloud and transitioning away from physical glass slide storage areas. We are uniquely positioned to offer our customers these types of tools for digital pathology with our enterprise imaging offering today. 

We are excited to bring our expertise in imaging software and digital workflow to pathology. The goal of pathologists is to establish a timely diagnosis for a patient based on their tissue samples. Waiting for tissue biopsies to be processed is already a slow process and the speed to results can impact the health outcomes for the patient. Digital pathology dramatically improves the speed at which the digital slides are accessible to the pathologist, even if the required specialist is not physically available on site.  

Digital pathology is becoming more established in labs around the world given its numerous benefits, including improved and timely analysis, reduction in errors, enhanced imaging, improved productivity, and enhanced patient outcomes. 

How can advanced digital pathology technologies, like Synapse Pathology, empower clinicians?  

Synapse Pathology is an open, vendor-agnostic, end-to-end digital pathology solution. Synapse Pathology’s software capabilities include using whole slide images from multiple scanning vendors to create an easier path for more pathology labs to digitize and realize the benefits of faster patient results, centralized imaging records, and enterprise access to images for all clinicians.  

The software is designed to be installed in medical facilities that handle large volumes of pathological images across multiple lab locations, allowing the use of their preferred mix of laboratory and diagnostic technologies with confidence of full compatibility. Synapse Pathology also holds the first FDA clearance for digital pathology software with multiple scanners. 

We are proud to expand our award-winning enterprise imaging portfolio and offer our customers a solution for digital pathology workflow. 

What makes Fujifilm’s enterprise imaging portfolio unique in today’s market?

Fujifilm has the most comprehensive cloud-based enterprise imaging portfolio on the market today, covering all areas of image and data acquisition across the enterprise. Our robust Synapse Enterprise Imaging portfolio spans radiology and cardiology PACS, VNA, 3D, Enterprise Information Systems (EIS), Cloud Services, enterprise viewer, Analytics, Fujifilm’s artificial intelligence (AI) enabled platform REiLI®, and now digital pathology! Our persistent focus on interoperability across imaging areas, breaking down traditional imaging silos to enhance the enterprise user experience, will allow us to look at both workflow innovation within pathology as well as how pathology imaging workflow can be enhanced outside of pathology and across the healthcare continuum. 

Synapse Pathology, now a product within the larger Fujifilm Enterprise Imaging portfolio,  was unveiled at the 112th Annual Meeting of the United States and Canadian Academy of Pathology (USCAP) in New Orleans held March 13-16, and will soon be showcased at the 2023 Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society (HIMSS) annual meeting in Chicago held April 17-21. If you’re planning to attend either, make sure to stop by our booth – request your demonstration here.  

Recently, Bill spoke with Editorial Director, Scott Wallask for the Dark Report, a publication that covers news for pathology group practices, hospitals, independent lab companies and health systems. Their conversation, which centered on Fujifilm’s acquisition of Dynamyx, may be viewed here 

Additionally, if you are interested in learning more about Fujifilm’s Enterprise Imaging portfolio that links all healthcare IT systems across all diagnostic departments, click here. 

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