Is a Digital Pathology Scanning & Hosting Service Right for You?

Are you planning to adopt digital pathology? As an alternative to purchasing a scanner and software, some vendors offer slide scanning services, as well as image hosting / Software as a Service (SaaS) solutions. We provide some key points to consider when deciding whether a purchased or service solution is best for your organization.

1. Solution Costs

The costs associated with owning a digital pathology solution and a service solution are very different. Consider which is right for you:

  • The capital cost of purchasing / leasing digital pathology equipment versus the recurring cost of subscription to a service solution.
  • The cost of staff to run the slide scanner and perform quality control on images, versus per-slide scanning costs.
  • Additional costs of owning a system, such as maintenance contracts. Is maintenance included with your service solution?

2. IT Infrastructure and Storage

Digital pathology is a significant addition to an IT infrastructure. Consider whether you have the IT resources to support your chosen solution:

  • Do you have in-house IT resources willing and able to support implementation and maintenance of digital pathology (e.g. network, storage servers)?
  • Does the scanning and hosting vendor provide comprehensive IT support?
  • What is the cost of purchasing image storage servers (local or cloud-based), versus the cost of the hosting subscription?
  • How much storage is included with the hosting service – and what is the cost if you need additional storage?

3. Solution Support

Whether you choose to purchase a digital pathology system or use a service solution, you need to make sure you can get help when you need it:

  • What are the support hours for the vendor? What is their typical turnaround time for responding to / resolving an issue?
  • If you are looking at a scanning and hosting vendor, are they the manufacturer of the digital pathology system? If not, do they have in-house expertise on the solution or are they reliant on a 3rd party?
  • Does the vendor offer product training for users at your organization?

4. Data Security

If you are looking at a scanning and hosting solution, you are reliant on a 3rd party to protect your data. Make sure that data security and safety meets your needs:

  • Does the vendor offer private hosting servers?
  • How is data secured in transit and at rest?
  • Does the vendor back up your data or provide a way for you to do so?
  • Does the hosted solution comply with ISO 27001 data security standards?
  • Are you the owner of your data? Is there a defined process for getting a copy of your data if you end your service?

5. Solution Flexibility and Customization

If you purchase a digital pathology solution you can customize it to meet your needs. Make sure that a service solution can meet the same requirements:

  • Does the vendor offer different levels of customization, e.g. a basic service versus a bespoke solution?
  • Can the vendor implement different workflows and modules, e.g. Image Analysis software, audit trails?
  • Is there a process for transitioning from a service solution to a purchased solution, should you wish to do so?