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Inside the Lab Digital and computational pathology, Profession, Technology and innovation

Pioneering the Future – Part II

Why did you adopt a new digital pathology platform?

The main reason is that we wanted an open platform – one that would not limit our choice of scanner or software. By increasing interoperability, we can integrate AI software from a variety of companies – giving us the freedom of choice. That’s very important to us because we have a large network of collaborators with whom we need to share files. We’re also upgrading our scanner and we want to make sure that, no matter what device we choose, it will be compatible with our system.

What are the most important practical characteristics of any digital pathology platform?

It’s very important, of course, to be able to integrate any scanner or software you choose – but that’s not the only consideration. The software must also be user-friendly for pathologists and it must be progressive, so that it can adapt to new developments in digital and computational pathology – and even to software developed internally in the lab. Everything changes so quickly!

LabPON is open to everyone interested in digital or computational pathology – so if any other laboratories would like to see how we work or why we’ve made the choices we have, they are welcome to visit us or to contact us with questions. Everybody is welcome.

How is digitization improving scalability for laboratory networks?

Going completely digital increases quality and efficiency. Using image analysis software before having a pathologist review the cases saves more than 10 percent of pathologists’ workload – meaning that those specialists can use their valuable time for complex tasks that cannot be digitized. The same team of pathologists, with digital and computational tools, can do more and better work – without sacrificing quality of life.

How has LabPON dealt with the pandemic?

Our fully digital status allowed remote working long before COVID-19. Many of my colleagues work from home at least one day per week and have the flexibility to choose where they work when needed. By the time COVID-19 hit, we had already established secure connections between the laboratory and pathologists’ home workstations – so we were in a good position to begin using them full-time. We were very happy to have been so well-prepared!

Has the pandemic helped pathology move toward digitization?

Yes. Many pathologists now work digitally from home and, although it may have been a difficult transition for some, we have all grown used to it. Meetings are held remotely via video call and even many large conferences have gone hybrid or virtual. This makes us all much safer by preventing the spread of disease via in-person work, meetings, or events – but the benefits don’t stop there. We now also have the flexibility to employ pathologists in distant locations or who work part-time from the laboratory and part-time from home. This kind of flexibility and freedom is important for working as efficiently as possible – and for giving our pathologists options that work for them.

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About the Author
Michael Schubert

While obtaining degrees in biology from the University of Alberta and biochemistry from Penn State College of Medicine, I worked as a freelance science and medical writer. I was able to hone my skills in research, presentation and scientific writing by assembling grants and journal articles, speaking at international conferences, and consulting on topics ranging from medical education to comic book science. As much as I’ve enjoyed designing new bacteria and plausible superheroes, though, I’m more pleased than ever to be at Texere, using my writing and editing skills to create great content for a professional audience.

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