Bridging the Diagnostic Divide: DigitCells and the Promise of Digital Pathology in Africa


DigitCells, a subsidiary of GoPathDx, a leading force in comprehensive diagnostic pathology, is on a mission to revolutionize healthcare access in Africa. We leverage the transformative power of digital pathology to address the critical shortage of pathologists, particularly in remote regions. This scarcity creates a devastating cascade of consequences, jeopardizing patient outcomes for countless individuals battling life-threatening diseases like cancer.

In the absence of a specialist to examine tissue samples (biopsies), patients face a heightened risk of misdiagnosis or delayed diagnosis altogether. This can be particularly perilous for aggressive diseases, where a misdiagnosis translates to wasted time and resources on inappropriate treatments. In the worst-case scenario, it allows the underlying illness to progress unchecked. Even for seemingly routine biopsies, the lack of readily available pathologists creates a precarious situation. Patients may endure extended wait times, often stretching into months, for sample analysis. This delay in diagnosis translates to a delay in initiating potentially life-saving interventions like surgery or chemotherapy.

Further compounding the challenge are strained healthcare resources in many African regions. While ideally available, access to chemotherapy can be limited due to cost constraints, a lack of trained personnel for administration, and infrastructure hurdles. These delays not only decrease treatment effectiveness but also worsen a patient’s prognosis.

Furthermore, the absence of a definitive diagnosis from a pathologist forces doctors to make treatment decisions based on incomplete information. This can lead to undertreatment, where the chosen therapy is inadequate to combat the disease, or overtreatment, where patients endure unnecessary and potentially harmful side effects. The combined effects of misdiagnosis, delayed treatment, and limited options culminate in a tragic reality: increased mortality rates.

Early and accurate diagnosis is the cornerstone of successful treatment for many diseases. The lack of pathologists in Africa presents a significant obstacle to this crucial step. This shortage isn’t merely an inconvenience; it’s a major barrier to quality healthcare and a threat to countless lives.

Digital Pathology: A Beacon of Hope for Africa’s Healthcare Future

Digital pathology offers a transformative approach to delivering quality pathology services in Africa. It acts as a bridge, connecting remote hospitals with a global network of expert pathologists. This dismantles the geographical barriers that have previously limited access to specialized care. High-resolution scanned images of biopsies (virtual slides) can be transmitted electronically, eliminating the need for physical transportation of tissue samples. This significantly reduces turnaround times for analysis, ensuring patients receive diagnoses and can begin treatment much sooner – a critical advantage in the fight against aggressive diseases.

Beyond the faster turnaround times, digital pathology empowers healthcare providers in Africa in several key ways:

  • Enhanced Collaboration and Knowledge Sharing: The digital platform fosters collaboration between local and international pathologists. Virtual slides can be easily shared electronically, facilitating consultations and second opinions from subspecialists. This not only improves diagnostic accuracy for complex cases but also creates valuable educational opportunities for local pathologists to learn from experienced specialists.
  • Streamlined Workflow: Digital pathology introduces a more efficient workflow for pathologists. Virtual slides can be reviewed, annotated, and shared electronically, allowing pathologists to analyze more cases in a shorter timeframe, potentially benefiting a greater number of patients.
  • Integration with Telemedicine: Digital pathology seamlessly integrates with telemedicine platforms, allowing for remote consultations between doctors and pathologists. This comprehensive approach to patient care ensures treatment decisions are made with a combined understanding of clinical findings and pathology results.


Building Bridges, Building Hope: A Local Champion for Digital Pathology

Our commitment to improving healthcare in Africa extends beyond just technology. We are also dedicated to building awareness and fostering local partnerships. This is exemplified by our collaboration with Simisola Ogunturoti, a mortician from Lagos, Nigeria. Driven by the harsh realities he witnessed working at a local mortuary, Simi embodies the resilience and perseverance we strive to support. Today, Simi travels throughout the region, educating hospitals about the transformative potential of digital pathology. His story is a testament to the power of local champions in driving positive change within their communities.

However, Simi’s story extends beyond individual heroism. It serves as a powerful illustration of how even seemingly small acts of kindness can ripple outwards, creating a wave of hope and positive change. DigitCells’ mission in Africa, like Simi’s dedication, reflects this very principle. By leveraging digital pathology, we aim to empower countless healthcare providers across the continent. This, in turn, translates to faster and more accurate diagnoses for patients – a critical step towards receiving life-saving treatments.

The impact extends beyond individual cases. As more patients receive timely diagnoses and effective treatment, the overall health outcomes in these communities improve. This creates a ripple effect, fostering a sense of hope and empowerment not just for patients, but for their families and communities as a whole.


To summarize, DigitCells’ work in Africa, alongside the dedication of local champions such as Simi, embodies the transformative potential of even small acts of kindness. By working together, we can bridge the gap in healthcare access and build a brighter, healthier future for countless individuals across the continent.


Scott Kilcoyne
DigitCells Cofounder & COO