Digital pathology is major trend in the clinical pathology laboratory industry
Among the three dominant trends in anatomic pathology informatics, digital pathology is expected to be of the highest interest to the attendees at this year’s Pathology Informatics 2010 annual conference, which takes place in Boston on September 19-22.
“More pathologists are paying attention to digital pathology because of the swift advances in the technology in recent years,” stated Bruce Friedman, Active Emeritus Professor of Pathology at the University of Michigan Medical School and President of the Pathology Education Consortium (PEC) is a conference organizer. “For example, new digital scanners make it faster and cheaper to produce a whole slide image that has rich detail.
“To help pathologists come up to speed on the field of digital pathology, multiple lectures and a workshop on digital pathology were added to the conference,” added Friedman. “Digital pathology will be the sole focus of the Pathology Imaging track, which is one of three learning tracks at Pathology Informatics 2010.”
Friedman is also well-known as the author of Lab Soft News, a blog for pathology informatics and the clinical laboratory, presented by PEC.
“The conference is organized around three primary learning tracks, each of which addresses a major trend in the anatomic pathology specialty,” explained John Gilbertson, M.D., a conference organizer and Associate Chief for Pathology Informatics at Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH). He is also Associate Professor of Pathology at Harvard Medical School. “Each learning track covers a major sector of clinical laboratory and pathology informatics.
“The major trends in our learning track called ‘Applied Pathology Informatics’ —best described as traditional LIS-based informatics—address helping the laboratory workflow, reporting laboratory test results, and supporting new electronic devices used in hospitals and by physicians,” noted Gilbertson. “We are presenting a full-day seminar on AP bar coding, asset tracking, and workflow optimization in anatomic pathology.
“The next major trend in laboratory informatics is covered in the second track, organized around the theme of ‘Advanced and Experimental Informatics’,” he continued. “Because advanced molecular diagnostics and genetic testing are playing a greater role in clinical care, laboratories must step up their use of information technology. Laboratory information systems (LIS) must deal with more complex data streams and be capable of handling and reporting laboratory test data in a more sophisticated manner.
“The third track is focused digital pathology, which we recognize as an important trend in anatomic pathology,” explained Gilbertson. “This track is called ‘Imaging Informatics in Pathology’. “As an example of the information to be presented, there will be a day-long symposium on ‘Diagnostic Imaging Analysis in Histology.’ Another session deals with the use and validation of whole-slide imaging in the clinical laboratory.”
Friedman said that one sign of greater interest in pathology informatics is the number of 15-minute scientific sessions was increased to 60 presentations because of the unprecedented demand by speakers. A record number of 42 pathology and clinical laboratory vendors will be participating at Pathology Informatics 2010, more evidence of the heightened activity in the field of pathology and clinical laboratory informatics.
Pathology Informatics 2010 takes place from September 19th through the 22nd at the Westin Copley Place hotel in Boston. The full schedule, topics, and speakers can be viewed at http://www.pathinformatics.pitt.edu/schedule/fullschedule .
“Pathologists and pathology practice administrators are recognizing that their laboratory must respond to the many technology changes happening in healthcare informatics,” observed Friedman. “At one end of the technology spectrum is the rapid development of digital pathology. That represents a disruptive technology, because it has the potential to shift pathologists away from viewing glass slides and working directly from a digital image of the slide.
“At the other end, efforts to create a universal patient health record (EHR) will require pathology groups and clinical laboratories to integrate their LIS and AP information systems with physicians’ EMRs and health information exchanges,” he explained. “These important changes in healthcare informatics are one major reason why we believe that interest in this year’s Pathology Informatics 2010 conference is at record levels.”