Journal Article
. 2015 May; 6:18.
doi: 10.4103/2153-3539.156168.

Distance reporting in digital pathology: A study on 950 cases

Aleksandar Vodovnik 1 
Affiliations
  • PMID: 25969793
  •     10 References
  •     14 citations

Abstract

Background: Increased workload, case complexity, financial constraints, and staffing shortages justify wider implementations of digital pathology. One of its main advantages is distance reporting.

Aim: A feasibility study was conducted at our institution in order to achieve comprehensive pathology services available by distance.

Methods: One senior pathologist reported 950 cases (3,650 slides) by distance during 19 weeks. Slides were scanned by ScanScope AT Turbo (Aperio) and digital images accessed through SymPathy (Tieto) on a 14" laptop. Mobile phone, mobile broadband, broadband over Wi-Fi and broadband were used for internet connections along with a virtual private network technology (VPN). Lync (Microsoft) was tested for one case consultation and resident's teaching session. Larger displays were accessed when available. Effects of ergonomics and working flexibility on the user experience were observed. Details on network speed, frequency of technical issues, data usage, scanning, and turnaround, were collected and evaluated. Turnaround was compared to in-office microscopic reporting, measured from the registration to sign off.

Results: Network speeds varied 1-80 Mbps (median download speed 8-65 Mbps). 20 Mbps were satisfactory for the instant upload of digital images. VPN, image viewer, and laptop failed on two occasions each. An estimated data usage per digital image was 10 MB (1-50 MB). Two cases (15 slides) were deferred to microscopic slides (0.21/0.41%) due to scanty material and suboptimal slide quality. Additional nine cases (15 slides) needed to be rescanned for various reasons (0.95/0.41%). Average turnaround was shorter, and the percentage of cases reported up to 3 days higher (3.13 days/72.25%) comparing with in-office microscopic reporting (3.90 days/40.56%). Larger displays improved the most user experience at magnifications over ×20.

Conclusions: Existing IT solutions at our institution allow efficient and reliable distance reporting for the core pathology services in histology and cytology. Stable network speeds, fully integrated laboratory information management system, technical reliability, working flexibility, larger displays, and shorter turnaround contributed to the overall satisfaction with distance reporting. A further expansion of our pathology services available by distance, diagnostic and educational, rely on gaining experience in digital reporting and marginal IT investment. Adjustments to the organization of pathology services may follow to fully benefit from the implementation of digital pathology.

Keywords: Digital pathology; distance reporting; turnaround.

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