Journal Article
. 2021 Jul; 23(7):e23799.
doi: 10.2196/23799.

Effectiveness of a Cloud-Based Telepathology System in China: Large-Sample Observational Study

Xianying He 1 Linlin Wang 1 Li Wang 2 Jinghong Gao 1 Fangfang Cui 1 Qianqian Ma 1 Wenjie Zhang 1 Lin Wang 1 Yunkai Zhai 3 Jie Zhao 1 
  • PMID: 34326037
  •     37 References


Background: Whole-slide imaging allows the entire slide to be viewed in a manner that simulates microscopy; therefore, it is widely used in telepathology. However, managing the large digital files needed for whole-slide imaging is difficult. To solve this problem, we set up the Chinese National Cloud-Based Telepathology System (CNCTPS). CNCTPS has been running for more than 4 years and has accumulated a large amount of data.

Objective: The main purpose of this study was to comprehensively evaluate the effectiveness of the CNCTPS based on a large sample. The evaluation indicators included service volume, turnaround time, diagnosis accuracy, and economic benefits.

Methods: Details of 23,167 cases submitted to the CNCTPS from January 2016 to December 2019 were collected to analyze the service volume, turnaround time, and economic benefits. A total of 564 patients who visited the First Affiliated Hospital of Zhengzhou University and obtained final diagnoses were followed up to analyze the diagnostic accuracy of the CNCTPS.

Results: From 2016 to 2019, the service volume of the CNCTPS increased from 2335 to 9240, and the number of participating hospitals increased from 60 to 74. Consultation requests from county-level hospitals accounted for 86.57% (20,287/23,167). A total of 17,495 of 23,167 cases (75.52%) were confirmed, including 12,088 benign lesions, 5217 malignant lesions, and 190 borderline lesions. Of the cases, 3.85% (893/23,167) failed to be diagnosed for reasons such as poor slice quality and incomplete sampling. The median turnaround time was 16.93 hours and was shortened yearly (between 2018 and 2019: adjusted P=.01; other groups: adjusted P<.001); 82.88% cases were diagnosed in 48 hours. There was a discrepancy between the diagnosis and final diagnosis for 11 cases, including 4 false-positive cases and 7 false-negative cases. The sensitivity and specificity were 97.66% and 98.49%, respectively. The diagnostic accuracy of the system was 98.05%, with no statistical difference from the final diagnosis in the hospital (P=.55). By using this system, a total of US $300,000 was saved for patients every year.

Conclusions: The novel cloud-based telepathology system has the potential to relieve the shortage of pathologists in primary hospitals. It can also simultaneously reduce medical costs for patients in China. It should, therefore, be further promoted to enhance the efficiency, quantity, and quality of telepathology diagnoses.

Keywords: cloud-based system; diagnostic accuracy; economic benefits; telepathology; turnaround time; whole-slide imaging.

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