Pathologists will soon be practicing in an information-rich environment
“Pathology 2.0” is the term coined by one pathologist at the Mayo Clinic to describe how a multitude of informatics innovations will transform the clinical and operational relationships pathology laboratories have with physicians, patients, and payers. Pathology 2.0 describes the interactive functions associated with “Web 2.0.”
Meet Keith Kaplan, M.D., Associate Professor of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota. Kaplan has a unique view of how Web 2.0 capabilities will underpin added value services in anatomic pathology. “Over the last several years, Web 2.0 has completely revolutionized the way people communicate ideas and information,” observed Kaplan.
“Whereas the Internet originally amounted to a one-way flow of information which reached users through static web pages, Web 2.0 uses a variety of innovations to create highly-interactive flows of information,” he explained. “The ability to conduct social networking is an example of Web 2.0 at work. These days, the technology needed to upload all types of information is included with a standard personal computer.”
Kaplan’s idea of Pathology 2.0 involves the ability to freely upload and share pathology content such as surgical pathology images and laboratory data. He also sees it as a way to improve communication with patients and clients in a way that will allow pathologists to reach out to much a much broader demographic while also providing more transparency than in the past.
“Think of Pathology 2.0 as a channel to allow your pathology lab to externalize content that was once locked behind the walls of your institution,” added Kaplan. “Now your pathology group, in a very easy manner—and at little or no cost—can make that information available to support collaborative discussions using expertise, knowledge, and know-how beyond your own group, your own institution, and your own healthcare system.”
Kaplan is notable in another way. He is one of the few pathologists who writes a regular blog. He updates his Digital Pathology Blog every day, and he says it has generated more professional connections in two years than he made in his previous ten years on the conference circuit.
“The social networking aspects of Web 2.0 enhance actual networking and marketing credibility” Kaplan observed. “The fact that you put your thoughts out there and share your insights and opinions opens up a conversation with others interested in these same topics. In turn, that leads to a richer understanding about these issues.”
Kaplan has advice for pathologists and pathology practice administrators that want to participate developing Web 2.0 as a professional resource.
- “First, just as the Internet has brought more transparency to a number of industries, it is about to expand transparency and access to knowledge in pathology,” he noted. “For example, look at how wikipedia.com has changed the traditional encyclopedia business.
- “Second, I predict that pathologists will soon be expected to share a lot of information that was once kept locked away, and,
- “Third, pathologists and commercial laboratory executives who accept the fact of Web 2.0 and learn how to incorporate its features into their clinical services will have strong competitive advantage.”
The concept of Pathology 2.0, based on Web 2.0 technologies and principles, represents a new change agent in the anatomic pathology profession. It is one element in the convergence of digital imaging, digital pathology systems, and integrated healthcare informatics. In fact, the capabilities of Pathology 2.0 and Web 2.0 will likely become primary tools that pathologists use to make it easier to access information and share findings.