Multiple departmental initiatives are in progress related to both anatomic and clinical pathology, including anatomic pathology systems integration, bi-directional laboratory interfaces with doctors offices, digital imaging, medical education, disease surveillance, and quality assurance and monitoring. One of the most important initiatives focuses on automated or electronic transfer of information between the laboratory and medical providers and we work in close collaboration with Nebraska Medicine Information Technology and our many commercial partners including LabLink, Cerner, and Dako.
Audrey Lazenby, M.D., and Geoffrey Talmon, M.D., are heading a project to utilize electronic bar coding that will allow uniform and automated linkage and monitoring of specimens from the time they are received in the department, through sectioning and staining to their description in the final report. One of the key elements uses the DakoLink system that integrates all of the technical steps involved in histopathology and allows them to be monitored so that our workforce can be optimized and our pathologists can anticipate the delivery of new cases. Software programmers and IT specialists with special help from Millisa Gerkin have worked together to allow status reports to be followed in the anatomic pathology information system, Co-Path, and provide for enhancements such as digital images when appropriate.
Sam Pirruccello, M.D., and his associates in the Regional Pathology Services are developing a regional information network and architecture to facilitate the electronic ordering and reporting of laboratory tests. Some of the components utilize commercial software such as Atlas while other elements are custom designed. The initiative has utilized the best aspects of commercial and open source data exchange engines such as Cloverleaf, Rhapsody and Mirth in the development of the program. The group has rapidly become one of the regional leaders in multi-platform system integration having worked with a large number of disparate systems, each with unique challenges and capabilities such as Wellsoft, Clarus, Cerner, and Sunquest.
Steven Hinrichs, M.D., has teamed with members of the Nebraska Public Health Laboratory (NPHL), the Association of Public Health Laboratories (APHL), and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to bring to reality a special subset of national goals for health data exchange. One of the most successful projects called Public Health Laboratory Interoperability Project (PHLIP) involves the ability of public health laboratories to receive and exchange electronic laboratory test orders and results. This capability is essential for not only providing routine response to public health needs, but also for providing surge capacity during major outbreaks of disease and maintaining continuity of operations during times of local emergency such as following a tornado or hurricane and a national challenge such as pandemic influenza.
Kirk Foster, M.D., is working with his pathology associates to implement new capability in digital pathology. Initiatives are directed towards both educational applications, as well as consultative pathology. The department recently hosted the first Midwest conference on applications of digital pathology to clinical practice and education. Experts from throughout the United States attended the conference that has been featured in the Journal of Pathology Informatics. Please see:
- Foster K. Medical education in the digital age: Digital whole slide imaging as an e-learning tool. J Pathol Inform [serial online] 2010 [cited 2010 Nov 11];1:14.
- Lele SM. Digital pathology in clinical consultation practice. J Pathol Inform [serial online] 2010 [cited 2010 Nov 11];1:17.
The department is collaborating with Ventana towards the development of new applications with the capability for total systems integration. International efforts are evolving with hospitals and clinical sites in Mexico and Saudi Arabia.