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New digital pathology certificate program educates ‘from A to Z’

August 2018—While there’s a lot of buzz about the growth of digital pathology, its steep learning curve is a potential impediment to implementation. Recognizing this, the National Society for Histotechnology, in collaboration with the Digital Pathology Association, launched in May a web-based digital pathology certificate program designed to provide both a broad overview of digital pathology and a deep dive into the details.

“Our quality committee at NSH wanted to give those within the histology profession the knowledge and the tools to implement the technology,” says Elizabeth A. Chlipala, laboratory manager at Premier Laboratory LLC, Longmont, Colo., and chair of the workgroup that was charged with developing the program. “The NSH Board of Directors quickly realized the value of having the DPA involved and reached out to the president of the organization.” This led to Liron Pantanowitz, MD, a member of the DPA board of directors and vice chair of pathology informatics at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, joining the workgroup and the course faculty. To round out the workgroup, Chlipala recruited participants from industry and from clinical, research, and education environments, seeking individuals with a “wide variety of experience in digital imaging who had been utilizing the technology for some time.”

The workgroup targeted NSH members but decided to present a broad range of content that explores areas far beyond most members’ responsibilities. “We wanted to make sure the course covered everything, from the technology itself, to the different components of a whole slide imaging system, how you select the appropriate system for your institution, specific use cases, implementation, image analysis, best practices, and validation,” explains Chlipala. The result, she adds, is that pathologists, histologists, information technology specialists, educators, software engineers—“anyone who is interested in and involved with digital pathology”—can benefit from the course.

To choose course faculty, the workgroup used a three-pronged strategy. First, “some people volunteered to serve when they heard about the course, and we welcomed them,” says Dr. Pantanowitz. “Two, we used our network and connections; and three, we sought out experts in particular areas. It’s a very small cadre of people to choose from, and some were double- and triple-booked, so in some cases I [and Chlipala] stepped in to fill the gaps and provide some content.” The majority of the 16 faculty members are pathologists, Chlipala says, and others come from the fields of informatics, business development, education, and histotechnology.

The course consists of 22 hours of content presented in seven modules: an introduction and history of digital pathology; basics of the technology; use cases for digital pathology; selecting and implementing a digital pathology solution; workflow considerations and best practice standards; image analysis; and regulatory requirements and validations. Each module contains discrete sessions addressing a specific topic, and the 35 sessions range from 20 minutes to an hour. Each session features a lecture and accompanying PowerPoint presentation prepared by the faculty. At the conclusion of a session, participants can test their knowledge with a five-question quiz, go back and review the session, revisit previous sessions, or proceed to the next session. The quizzes are optional, but participants must complete the entire program and pass a final exam to receive a certificate of completion.

An example of a question in an optional quiz from module seven.

Despite the breadth of the course, the program went from inception to go-live in less than a year, says Dr. Pantanowitz, “which was much quicker than I anticipated. They [the NSH Digital Pathology Certificate Task Force] were extremely well organized.”

In providing guidance to the faculty members, he notes, it was “difficult and important to avoid overlap and redundancy [of topics], which tends to happen in these kinds of things. We designed the curriculum and gave people clear instructions” regarding their subject matter. But the fact that a couple of topic areas were addressed in every module, in Chlipala’s view, simply reinforces their importance. “The quality of the slide preparation was discussed in multiple sessions as being key to successful implementation of the technology,” she explains. “There are subtle changes within the histology process that need to be made—not how you process tissues, but more about sectioning and staining and placement on the slide.” In addition, session speakers emphasized the importance of selecting a whole slide imaging system “to meet the needs of the institution and the use cases they want to implement,” she adds. “No one system will be appropriate for everyone.”

What makes the NSH/DPA offering particularly worthwhile, Chlipala says, is the wealth of tools and information geared to helping participants implement the technology. “For each module there’s a glossary, a list of references, publications and white papers associated with that module, and also SOPs [standard operating procedures] on different scanners and on image analysis, use logs, all these little things that help an individual who’s asking, ‘Where do I start? What do I really need?’” The modules will be updated as needed, she continues, based on user comments and emerging industry trends.
The digital pathology program can be accessed at Learn.NSH.org and costs $499 for NSH and DPA members and $599 for others. “I think it’s a great value for the price,” says Dr. Pantanowitz. “It will definitely educate you from A to Z—the nuts and bolts of digital pathology without the hype.” —Jan Bowers

AP-Visions introduces LIS

AP-Visions has released its xLab Starter laboratory information system as part of its xSeries product line. The software has the same features and benefits as the company’s xLab LIS but is designed for use by smaller and start-up labs.

XLab Starter comes with one instrument interface, installation and training, and 90 days of post-installation support for less than $2,500. Users can add multiple interfaces, including interfaces to the electronic medical record, billing software, and AP-Visions’ xLab pain-management module, for an additional fee.
AP-Visions, 866-526-7099

StaffReady releases document control software

StaffReady, which sells staff scheduling and competency assessment modules for the health care industry, has introduced a document control module.

The document control software does not use templates, and users can upload approved documents into the system without triggering an additional review cycle.

“This is particularly appealing to clients during the implementation stage,” the company stated in a press release. “With no predefined templates to work with, clients can upload any file type they choose and can change formats during the process. As an example, once the client is ready to move forward with a request for approval, the file can be saved as a PDF to prevent further edits.”

The document control module’s change log gathers and compiles edits and the related discussion, allowing clients to review critical changes in a document as well as the reasoning for the changes.

“This is more document collaboration than document control,” says John Janzen, founder and president of StaffReady.
StaffReady, 877-229-5230

TriCore moves to new IT architecture

TriCore Reference Laboratories, a provider of 10.5 million billable diagnostic tests per year in the Southwestern United States, has implemented an information technology architecture, coined c21, to enhance its laboratory data-collection and reporting process.

Other benefits of the new infrastructure include a shift from multiple sources of data reporting to a single source of data reporting out of the repository; augmented integration with its customer relationship management system to speed the delivery of test results in the critical range; standardization of electronic master patient index processes; and simplification of the process for creating antibiograms.

By implementing c21, TriCore can “enhance the patient contact, specimen routing, and tracking processes in order to reduce patient wait times and improve specimen management efficiency,” according to a company press release.
Rhodes Group, which was acquired by TriCore in 2015, designed c21 as its core solutions architecture.

Fabric Genomics expands client base worldwide

Fabric Genomics recently announced that it has signed contracts for its proprietary end-to-end clinical genomics platform with 10 health care institutions in seven countries.

The new customers are the Sheffield Diagnostic Genetics Service, of Sheffield Children’s NHS Foundation Trust, and Cancer Research UK Manchester Institute, both in England; Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario Research Institute and University of Calgary Department of Medical Genetics, both in Canada; Landspitali, the National University Hospital of Iceland; Kennedy Center of the Clinical Genetics Clinic, in Glostrup, Denmark; National Center for Global Health and Medicine and A2sigma, both in Japan; Centre for Proteomic and Genomic Research, in Cape Town, South Africa; and King Fahad Medical City, Riyadh City, Saudi Arabia.

The Oakland, Calif.-based company has more than 1,000 clinical and research licenses worldwide and has processed more than 50,000 patient samples.
Fabric Genomics, 510-595-0800

Dr. Aller teaches informatics in the Department of Pathology, University of Southern California, Los Angeles. He can be reached at raller@usc.edu. Hal Weiner is president of Weiner Consulting Services LLC, Eugene, Ore. He can be reached at hal@weinerconsulting.com.

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