Image: The shortage of pathologists and rise in new cancer cases are responsible for an increased adoption of digital pathology solutions worldwide (Photo courtesy of Getty Images).
The global digital pathology market was worth USD 381.8 million in 2016 and is projected to grow at a CAGR of 13.2% to reach USD 708.9 million by 2021, driven by the increased adoption of digital pathology solutions worldwide due to shortage of pathologists and rise in new cancer cases. Additionally, new business models and increased FDA approvals of Whole Slide Image (WSI) scanners for primary diagnostics are expected to provide a boost to the digital pathology market.
These are the findings of Frost & Sullivan, a consulting and research firm (Santa Clara, CA, USA).
The declining number of pathologists and increase in procedural volumes due to a rise in the number of oncology cases is expected to be a key growth driver of the digital pathology market. The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates a rise of about 70% in the number of new cases over the next two decades. Digital pathology is known to enhance the productivity of pathologists by 10% to 15%, leading to an improvement in the overall efficiency of healthcare providers. Digital pathology solutions are well suited for oncology care and are useful in cancer diagnosis, as these systems allow physicians to quickly take and consider a second opinion in critical cases. Additionally, the use of digital pathology in drug discovery allows pharmaceutical companies to remove bias and provide quantifiable results.
The growing applications of digital pathology in drug development activities, increasing awareness, and FDA approval for the use of digital pathology systems in clinical applications are expected to further fuel the growth of the digital pathology market. Digital pathology devices were not approved for primary diagnosis until Philips received approval for Intellisite in April 2017, which is likely to drive higher adoption of digital pathology in primary diagnosis. Further approvals of WSIs anticipated over the next 3 to 5 years will lead to increased competition in the digital pathology market.
The share of the software segment in the digital pathology market is estimated to increase on account of an expected increase in spending on image processing and analysis software products. Moreover, increased focus on using machine learning tools and Artificial Intelligence- (AI) based algorithm for automated predictive healthcare solutions will provide a boost to the spending on software solutions.
Since machine learning and AI-based platforms enable useful clinical interpretation of whole slide images, companies are strongly focusing on developing new algorithms and updating their existing ones. Multi-spectral imaging in whole slide scanning also provides a significant growth opportunity as the capabilities to handle multiple staining using multi-spectral imaging systems allow pathologists to more accurately probe the tissue biomarkers. Hence, multi-spectral imaging in whole slide scanning holds significant growth potential due to its high adoption in the clinical segment.
In spite of the higher efficiency and clinical effectiveness of digital pathology solutions, their high cost remains one of the key restraints to market growth, especially among small-to-mid-sized laboratories. However, new business models and partnerships among vendors are expected to change this scenario in the future.
“Strategic partnerships will be essential to pushing market growth. Vendors who provide one or two components for the entire digital pathology portfolio will need to identify the right partner to devise a more robust and complete offering,” said Divyaa Ravishankar, Senior Research Analyst at Frost & Sullivan. “Additionally, vendors should also be able to provide the laboratories with a portfolio of business models.”
Frost & Sullivan