Tumor boards are a critical component of a patient's diagnostic and treatment processes, and pathology participation in these discussions is vital. However, the traditional process required to prepare pathology data and images can be laborious and time consuming.
As a medical student/intern/resident in the early to mid-1990s, most of the pathologists I was exposed to in a university/medical center setting were pathologists who were-first and primarily-general pathologists, general surgical pathologists and clinical pathologists. Everyone did everything in terms of surgical pathology subspecialties, with a few notable exceptions (bone marrow examinations and liver biopsies, depending on the nature of the case and the particular pathologist assigned the case). In addition, the staff pathologists I worked with also covered some area of the clinical laboratory and were responsible for any issues referred from house staff during evening and weekend call.
Tumor boards were created with worthy objectives in mind – to share knowledge, improve current patient care, and prepare/educate residents & fellows for their future practices. Tumor boards are also a requirement for cancer center accreditation, hence a necessary cost of doing business.
Preparing for tumor boards, however, is too often an onerous task fraught with time delays, rework, and cumbersome, inflexible presentation methods. After your support staff pulls reports, retrieves slides, and brings them to you, do you spend hours photographing and taking notes of the key points you then load into a PowerPoint to present for each case? Do you ever get to your tumor boards and find that another view of the slide might better answer the clinician’s question?
When reviewing previous slides for your patient’s current case or when preparing for tumor boards, are you spending precious time and resources having your staff retrieve or recut slides? Do slides get lost or damaged causing more delays in your ability to expedite your case? Management of slide and block archives is a challenge for all anatomic pathology laboratories. How can implementing a robust digital pathology program help you make the best use of your time and resources?
Ever had a good idea that you wanted to see implemented in your organization? Ever had that idea actually implemented and succeed and make a difference? Or have some of those ideas been criticized by personal attacks, death by delay, folks making excuses that the problem that needs to be fixed does not exist or that the solution was tried before and did not work?
In a previous blog post, we shared key steps to a successful digital pathology system implementation. This is the second article of a two-part series designed to assist you in managing the whole process.
A successful digital pathology system implementation depends upon careful planning and commitment. Most pathologists are hesitant to move from the gold standard of glass slides to a digital image-based platform. Today, however, whole-slide scanners can provide high quality images that allow pathologists increased flexibility for case management and collaboration with other pathologists. As the technology continues to grow, digital pathology will soon become the new gold standard.
"Rather than taking an overall leadership role in the continuous improvement of the health care delivery system, too many medical professionals either ignore the problems of the system in order to concentrate in their own specific practices or focus their energies and talents on protecting the status quo."
Two weeks ago, healthcare news headlines and Twitter made hundreds of thousands of references to Dr. Eric Topol’s keynote address at the 8th Annual Health 2.0 conference. For a review of Dr. Topol’s thoughts and comments, click here.