Bui also points out that these kinds of services may become more essential, because the number of pathologists in the United States continues to decrease. A study in the Archives of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine warned that America’s pathologists are retiring faster than their replacements, and that population growth and increasing disease in an aging population will lead to a deficit of pathologists. This, the authors say, will have a negative impact on the ability of laboratory services and health care providers to deliver effective care to their patients.
Digital pathology still has a number of challenges to address. In February 2018, Paige.AI partnered with New York City’s Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, gaining access to its collection of 25 million patient tissue slides. Subsequent reports from ProPublica and the New York Timeshighlighted the controversy around issues of corporate governance, potential illegality, and other areas over high-ranking members of Sloan Kettering failing to disclose financial stakes in the startup and a noncompetitive bidding process. Other concerns included the use of patient data in a for-profit venture.
“With images specifically, it has proven to be quite effective and actually more accurate than humans alone,” says Pam Dixon, executive director of the World Privacy Forum, which is focused on conducting in-depth research, analysis, and consumer education in the area of data privacy, with a focus on emerging issues. “I am in favor of proceeding very slowly, on a case-by-case basis, and I think we definitely need to be testing the science, especially in regards to images, which is something that the A.I. algorithm does very, very well.”