At the time that this note is being posted, a total of 24 vendors have signed up as exhibitors for the Pathology Informatics Summit 2014 that will held in Pittsburgh on May 13-16, 2014. Here are the names of the companies grouped by their level of participation: Cerner, Hamamatsu, Leica, Ventana, SCC Soft Computer, and Sunquest at the platinum level, GenomOncology at the gold level; and 3DHISTECH, ASCP, Atlas Medical, Apollo PACS, ARUP, CAP, Cortex, General Data, Indica Labs, Lifepoint Informatics, McKesson, Orchard Software, PathXL, Sakura VisionTek, Visiopharm, Voicebrook, and Xifin at the silver level. There will undoubtedly be more by the time of the conference.
What I find interesting is that nine of these 24 vendors are primarily focused on digital pathology, nearly 40% of the total. Half of the platinum vendors fall into this category. I have been pessimistic in recent months about the lack of progress in digital pathology by which I mean failure of most pathologists to deploy the technology. The regulatory aspects of the field have been cloudy at best with FDA approval currently lacking for primary diagnosis. I don't want to get embroiled in a discussion about the root causes of this regulatory problem. Only understand that this has been an impediment to adoption of the technology.
A number of factors undoubtedly underlie this surge of digital pathology vendors at the PI Summit. First of all, the conference has been moved from its Fall time slot to the less-crowded Spring lineup. This was a bold move on the part of the conference planners, given that the last conference in the series was held in the Fall of 2012. I think that many of this year's participating vendors were enthusiastic about this shift to a Spring timeframe. Secondly, the PI Summit is the only pathology conference focusing on a broad swath of information technology. This approach guarantees an engaged and enthusiastic audience for the vendors. Finally, there is the possibility that the PI Summit may emerge as the most important digital pathology event of the year. The other candidate for this title is the Pathology Visions conference, sponsored by the Digital Pathology Association (DPA) and taking place in the Fall. The DPA functions as both an industry trade association and as an educational, user-oriented organization. Both are necessary and important functions but it's not clear that both goals can be adequately served by a single organization. It might serve the DPA constituency better to focus, say, on the development of standards for digital pathology interoperability.