Digital Pathology Blog

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Posted by Keith Kaplan, MD, Chief Medical Officer 04/11/2017

Who has the most important job at Starbucks?


I’ve spent a lot of time in Starbucks, and over the years, it seems little has really changed with the basic operations. The line to the register is flanked by food options and souvenirs leading to someone who takes your order and your money (The Register). Your order moves to someone standing at the espresso machine (On Bar). Other Starbucks associates are simultaneously working the Drive-Thru customers (On Drive-Thru).

Another associate is grinding beans, ensuring the coffee urns are full, teas are brewed, cups, lids and cup protectors are in place, and coolers are well stocked with sandwiches, croissants and breakfast sandwiches (Customer Support).

So, who has the most important job at Starbucks? The Register? On Bar? On Drive-Thru? Customer Support?

Topics: Healthcare, Pathology, Management

Posted by Keith Kaplan, MD, Chief Medical Officer 01/24/2017

Liquid Biopsy: Are We Ready?

Liquid biopsy is defined as, “A test done on a sample of blood to look for cancer cells from a tumor that are circulating in the blood or for pieces of DNA from tumor cells that are in the blood. A liquid biopsy may be used to help find cancer at an early stage. It may also be used to help plan treatment or to find out how well treatment is working or if cancer has come back. Being able to take multiple samples of blood over time may also help doctors understand what kind of molecular changes are taking place in a tumor.”*

Often times the test is regarded as “non-invasive” as it can be performed with simple venipuncture specimens or voided urine samples.

These tests are gaining traction within the industry as a viable alternative to traditional screening methods for cancer. Study results are turning up positive data in favor of the tests, and a recent report by financial services firm Cowen & Co. said annual sales for the tools could surpass $10 billion.

Topics: Pathology

Posted by Keith Kaplan, MD, Chief Medical Officer 10/11/2016

What do you do for a living? I am a pathologist but not the kind you are thinking of

During training, I had an attending who actually called the autopsy the "awfultopsy," as in "awfultopsies are not that bad if you only have to do one every other year" – which I think was his personal goal. Sometimes the autopsy pathologist would be out and others would cover if there happened to be a case; so many of my attendings did not have conducting posts as part of their routine practice.

Topics: Pathology

Posted by Keith Kaplan, MD, Chief Medical Officer 09/14/2016

Role of Pathology and Pathologists in 2017

It doesn't even seem like a real number but the year 2017 is close.  High school freshman this year were not born yet on September 11, 2001, which does not seem like that long ago.  15 years have passed since the day when my generation will always recall where they were when they heard/saw what was unfolding – much like my parent’s generation can tell you about Kennedy’s assassination like it was yesterday.

Topics: Pathology

Posted by Keith Kaplan, MD, Chief Medical Officer 05/24/2016

I Have Lung Cancer

On a recent trip, to present at grand rounds at a well-known midwestern medical school, I noticed a dapper gentleman on my flight.  He was wearing a three-piece suit and carrying an impressive attaché case. He stood out among the many travelers dressed in shorts and flip-flops, and who probably wished they hadn’t when we reached our destination where the weather was not as friendly.

Topics: Pathology

Posted by Keith Kaplan, MD, Chief Medical Officer 12/08/2015

The Rule of 70s – Does it Still Apply?

There is a decades-old theorem first derived at the Mayo Clinic that although based on little actual data has been popularized over the years stating:

  • 70% of patients in a hospital have laboratory data.
  • 70% of clinical data points (objective information) come from laboratory data.
  • 70% of clinical healthcare decisions result from laboratory tests.
  • These data account for less than 5-10% of healthcare costs.

This is a lot of bang for the buck. Imagine 70% of objective information assisting in 70% of healthcare decisions for as little as 5% of total healthcare expenditures.

Topics: Pathology

Posted by Keith Kaplan, MD, Chief Medical Officer 11/17/2015

Is There a General Pathologist in the House

Almost 3 years ago I wrote a piece for Advance for Administrators of the Laboratory in their "Perspectives in Pathology" entitled Death of the General (Surgical) Pathologist.

This piece discussed the issues surrounding what is perceived by many as the increasing (and necessary) sub-specialization in pathology.  The model of "everybody doing everything” has evolved into “everybody doing one thing".

Historically, practicing pathologists were solid general surgical pathologists, often times with their own expertise/interest in a particular area, but they prided themselves on being "surgical pathologists" rather than "liver", "hemato-" or "dermato-" pathologists as in today’s world. A number of factors have driven and resulted in this trend.  

First and foremost, the needs of the market.  Dedicated specialists in breast or gastrointestinal diseases are commonplace in medicine including the radiologist, surgeon, oncologist and radiation therapist.  Pathology appropriately responded accordingly. Secondly, pathologists have driven some our own marketing and needs.  The resulting potential problems are paramount and based on many fallacies.

Topics: Pathology

Posted by Keith Kaplan, MD, Chief Medical Officer 11/04/2015

The State of the Pathology Union

Dr. Keith Kaplan, Chief Medical Officer for Corista, LLC, offers his thoughts on “The State of Pathology Today” and some strategies for facing today’s challenges. 

Today, the state of pathology, along with our national leadership and organizations, seems fragmented and without direction. I attended the College of American Pathologists (CAP) and House of Delegates meetings earlier this month, and there seem to be a few issues which we cannot deal with as a group:

  • Needs of academics vs. community-based hospitals: From the need for AP/CP generalists in some settings to the need for sub-specialists in others, how do we best practice our specialty? We seem to be an increasingly heterogeneous group with loss of identity.  

Topics: Pathology

Posted by Keith Kaplan, MD, Chief Medical Officer 10/27/2015

Are There Any Medical Personnel On Board?

As I was trying to sleep, sitting upright in seat 11C, this question came over the public address system. 183 of us were traveling from LA to Boston and it was 4 AM, in whatever time zone is home to Kansas. This was the final leg of a quick halfway around the world trip. Our itinerary started in Charlotte on Friday, then to Shanghai, and finally to Boston by Monday morning. We had already traveled nearly 15,000 miles by car, bus, train and air. Now, just a few hours from completing 6 flights in less than 3 days, we may have hit a snag in our travel plans.

Topics: Pathology

Posted by Robin Weisburger 09/22/2015

Telepathology and Inspection Readiness

Telepathology and the use of whole slide images (WSI) are becoming accepted in the practice of pathology on a clinical level. While the use of WSI has not been approved for primary diagnosis, it is now a part of any clinical applications such as quality assurance activities, tumor boards and expert reviews.

To that end, regulators for laboratory accreditation acknowledge the role this technology plays in the laboratory and are now assessing telepathology and whole slide imaging activities accordingly. The attention and focus of inspections are similar to all other laboratory services; the critical elements of well-defined policies and procedures, documented training, and system validation are all expected of digital pathology/telepathology services.

Topics: Pathology