Experts in pathology and clinical laboratory informatics to gather in October in Pittsburgh

One respected expert in pathology informatics says that a “major sea change” is underway in pathology informatics. The pace of this transformation is steady and pathology groups should be responsive to these developments.

These are the opinions of Bruce Friedman, M.D., Active Emeritus Professor of Pathology at the University of Michigan Medical School and President of the Pathology Education Consortium (PEC), in an exclusive interview with Dark Daily. He recommends that anatomic pathology laboratories need to step up and respond to remain competitive.

“Right now all of the action in the field revolves around digital pathology, stated Friedman. “Many new companies are entering the field, including system integrators. In earlier times, the emphasis was placed on slide scan times and the quality of images. Now there is much greater emphasis on end-to-end integration and workflow.

pathology informatics 2011

“This is very appropriate,” he continued, “since this emphasis aligns with the interests of surgical pathologists. They want integration of image capture and storage with their legacy LISs. They want to use the digital pathology technology but with the fewest mouse clicks and easiest image navigation.”

Friedman is a pathologist who is well-known as the author of Lab Soft News, a blog about informatics in anatomic pathology and clinical laboratories. He will address major developments in pathology informatics during his presentations at the upcoming conference titled “Pathology Informatics 2011,” which takes place October 4-7 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

“Looking at trends specific to the use of informatics in clinical and anatomic pathology, I’d select these four primary developments as the most important ones to watch,” noted Friedman.

“First, as noted above, is the rapid improvement of digital pathology,” he said. “This includes quantification of immunohistologic stains with earliest adoption in pathology teaching programs. Pathology residents understand that a deep understanding of this technology is a requirement for them to seek a position later in a pathology group.

“Second is the emergence of integrated diagnostics,” noted Friedman. “This is where the primary diagnostic specialties of anatomic/clinical pathology and radiology more closely collaborate and interoperate to provide cheaper, faster, better diagnostic services.

Third, there is an increasing dependence on multiplexed molecular testing, including interpretive computer algorithms in diagnostic and predictive medicine,” continued Friedman. “Such tests are often referred to as IVDMIAs (in vitro diagnostics multivariate assays).

“Fourth, ever more frequently, the LIS (laboratory information system) is being used to assist and inform test-ordering clinicians about the most appropriate ordering for disease diagnosis,” he added. “The LIS is also used to play a role in ensuring that physicians are aware of actionable test results.”

Friedman noted that Pathology Informatics 2011 has three learning tracks this year which focus on each of these trends. The Clinical Information Management Track deals with improving test quality and better approaches to supporting optimal test ordering. The System Support and Connectivity Track addresses integration issues involving the pathology LIS. As well, speakers participating in the Digital Imaging Track will discuss the technical and organizational challenges presented within pathology imaging.

Within the typical patient health record, approximately 70% of the data is generated by the laboratory and stored in the LIS. It is then replicated to the EMR. Friedman observed that it is a general—but mistaken—assumption that computer-to-computer communications are errorless. One of the lecture discussions at Pathology Informatics 2011 will address the validation of test results transmitted from the LIS to other hospital clinical systems.

Pathologists interested in keeping their group practice up-to-date with the developments in pathology informatics should review the speakers, workshops, sessions and presentations at this year’s Pathology Informatics 2011. Here are the links to the conference agenda and registration.

–Pamela Scherer McLeod

Related Information

Pathology Informatics 2011 Website with Program Information and Registration

Digital Pathology to be Highlighted at This Year’s Annual Pathology Informatics Conference (From 2010)

1st Congress of the International Academy of Digital Pathology

Digital Pathology Association Website

Digital Pathology Association Annual Meeting

What is THE DARK REPORT clinical laboratory intelligence membership service?