Helping pathologists go “all digital” is the vision of these informaticians
DATELINE: PITTSBURGH—Lots of news and exciting developments have been showcased at this week’s gathering of pathology informatics gurus and innovators here in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. The occasion is the 14th annual Advancing Practice, Instruction, and Innovation in Informatics (APIII) and your Dark Daily editor is here to participate and make a presentation.
This high-energy meeting showcases a wide range of developments in pathology informatics. Not surprisingly, digital scanning and working with digital images are prominent topics. But there is another fascinating aspect to the sessions here. Organizers of APIII invited a number of radiologists who were seminal in advancing radiology informatics to come to APIII and discuss the lessons learned as radiology weaned itself away from film during the past 15 years.
For example, how about “DICOM for Pathology”? That was the title of David Clunie, MBBS’ presentation. He is Chief Technology Officer at RadPharm, Inc. (formerly Princeton Radiology Pharmaceutical Research) in Princeton, New Jersey. Clunie discussed how DICOM standards, as they are applied to pathology images, can build upon prior work that helped to standardize the way radiology images are produced, stored, and transmitted. He demonstrated how specific challenges involved in pathology whole slide imaging (WSI) can be addressed so that a DICOM approach can support uniformity and universal access to digital pathology images.
For real-time management of work flow and clinical activities, “Keeping Your Eyes on the Road: Digital Dashboards in Radiology and Pathology” was just the ticket. Paul Nagy, Ph.D., shared the digital dashboard used by his radiology group. He is Associate Professor of Radiology at the University of Maryland School of Medicine. Nagy stressed the value of providing clinicians and supporting staff with useful metrics. Most notably, Nagy stated that the digital dashboard is designed to produce continuous improvement in quality and service.
“Pathologists will be fascinated to learn that the radiologists invited to speak that this year’s APIII have a common message to our profession,” stated Michael Becich, M.D., Ph.D., who is Chairman, Department of Biomedical Informatics at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. “They continually observe that, in regards to digital imaging and integrated informatics, pathology today is addressing identical issues and processes as did radiology ten or more years ago during its evolution to a fully-digital practice setting. That’s important for pathologists, because this experience in digital radiology is now helping pathologists understand what needs to happen in pathology to advance digital applications.”
Becich, who is Founder and Course Director of APIII, also identified another transformational force that is advancing pathology’s progress toward digital imaging and integrated informatics. “Web 2.0 technologies are coming quickly and will impact the way pathologists market their services, share data, and virtualize its most important pathology tools.”
In particular, Becich predicts that pathologists are likely to incorporate Web 2.0 models such as facebook.com and myspace.com into useful clinical resources. “This is now happening and there is still plenty of opportunity to use social networking tools to pull the pathology community together,” he observed.
In fact, Becich believes applications utilizing the Internet will be disruptive to traditional pathology practice patterns. “Web 2.0 is a silo-buster!” he declared. “Pathologists will be surprised at how quickly Web 2.0 services will be available. There are already half a dozen people developing Web 2.0 applications for pathology.
“More evidence that pathology informatics is poised to change the way pathologists think about their work is the fact that several of the seminal pathology informatics groups are coalescing into a unified effort,” added Becich. “Specifically, APIII, Lab Infotech Summit , and the Association of Pathology Informatics (API) are forming a single non-profit corporation.
“This new organization will produce a combined conference next fall to create the first “big tent” meeting in digital pathology and pathology informatics,” noted Becich. “The vendor community and other interested commercial entities are actively supporting this effort. Their involvement adds momentum for digital pathology and integrated informatics.”
Attendance at this year’s APIII is about 250 people and illustrates the broad interest in digital pathology services. During this week, there will be more than 100 sessions and electronic posters which address a wide spectrum of innovations and experience in moving pathology closer to the digital age.
Your intrepid Dark Daily editor,
Robert L. Michel
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