Is there hype for artificial intelligence (AI)? As it turns out, yes, there is. Keynote speakers acknowledged as much at the 2022 Executive War College Conference on Laboratory and Pathology Management. Nevertheless, leading clinical laboratory companies are taking real steps with the technology that showcase AI developments in digital pathology and patient care.
Labcorp, the commercial laboratory giant headquartered in Burlington, N.C., has billions of diagnostic test results archived. It takes samplings of those results and runs them through a machine learning algorithm that compares the data against a condition of interest, such as chronic kidney disease (CKD). Machine learning is a subdiscipline of AI.
Based on patterns it identifies, the machine learning algorithm can predict future test results for CKD based on patients’ testing histories, explained Stan Letovsky, PhD, Vice President for AI, Data Sciences, and Bioinformatics at Labcorp. Labcorp has found the accuracy of those predictions to be better than 90%, he added.
In "Keynote Speakers at the Executive War College Describe the Divergent Paths of Clinical Laboratory Testing as New Players Offer Point-of-Care Tests and More Consumers Want Access to Home Tests," Robert Michel, Editor-in-Chief of Dark Daily, reported on how AI in digital pathology was one of several "powerful economic forces [that] are about to be unleashed on the traditional market for clinical laboratory testing."
Labcorp also has created an AI-powered dashboard that—once layered over an electronic health record (EHR) system—allows physicians to configure views of an individual patient’s existing health data and add a predictive view based on the machine learning results.
For anatomic pathologists, this type of setup can quickly bring a trove of data into their hands, allowing them to be more efficient with patient diagnoses. The long-term implications of using this technology are significant for pathology groups’ bottom line.
Mayo Clinic Plans to Digitize 25 Million Glass Slides
In other AI developments, Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn., has started a project to digitally scan 25 million tissue samples on glass slides—some more than 100 years old. As part of the initiative, Mayo wants to digitize five million of those slides within three years and put them on the cloud, said pathologist and physician scientist Jason Hipp, MD, PhD, Chair of Computational Pathology and AI at Mayo Clinic.
"We want to be a hub within Mayo Clinic for digital pathology," Hipp told Executive War College attendees during his keynote address.
Hipp views his team as the bridge between pathologists and the data science engineers who develop AI algorithms. Both sides must collaborate to move AI forward, he commented, yet most clinical laboratories and pathology groups have not yet developed those relationships.
"We want to embed both sides," Hipp added. "We need the data scientists working with the pathologists side by side. That practical part is missing today."
The future medical laboratory at Mayo Clinic will feature an intersection of pathology, computer technology, and patient data. Cloud storage is a big part of that vision.
"AI requires storage and lots of data to be practical," Hipp said.