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Why interface your whole slide imaging device?

Whole Slide Imaging Device

As digital pathology continues to expand the routine use of whole slide imaging (WSI) pathology slide scanners is becoming more common. That said, most of these devices are implemented as stand-alone deployments with no integration with the laboratory’s information system (LIS) technology.

As a result, each slide scanned need to be annotated with the appropriate metadata such as: patient information such as name, medical record number, age; details around the pathology materials such as slide number, stain type, tissue type; and work flow information, such as the pathologist who will review the case. Not only is entry of this information time consuming, it is prone to errors resulting in reporting and workflow deviation. When such systems are used for high volume scanning, such practices are untenable.

To address this, it is recommended that whole slide imaging devices be integrated with the LIS to allow the required/desired information to post automatically from the LIS to the WSI. This can readily be accomplished by most LIS and WSI vendors using standard HL7 messages between the LIS ordering module and the WSI database. While complex, such projects are quite feasible and have a rapid return on investment. In fact, the availability of such an interface should be an important pre-requisite for system selection and factored into implementation time lines and the cost of acquisition.

An important component of such integration in addition to capturing the desired metadata around slides and related pathology assets is the ability for the WSI device to read and act upon the bar coded slide label. Slides need to have bar code labels to best enable WSI. If you haven’t got bar codes on you pathology assets including slides, this is step one. Commonly encountered issues with slide bar code labels can include the format (2D versus Linear), the content (what is in the bar code? Is it a unique identifier) and the quality (is the label readable? Is it in the correct position to be read?). Such issues may be overlooked if you don’t carefully question your vendor about interfaces, system integration, and bar code reading capabilities.

Bottom line: without careful attention to integration high volume WSI will be hostage to bottlenecks that will limit throughput.

Mark Tuthill260
Dr. Tuthill is Division Head of Pathology Informatics at Henry Ford Health System in Detroit and will be speaking at the 3rd Digital Pathology Congress: USA on interfacing Whole Slide Imaging to support digital pathology workflow integration.

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