Last month, we had a look at Drexel University’s PathcoreFlow-empowered reporting workflow. If you missed it, don’t worry. The short is pretty straightforward: thanks to folder-based data organization and customizable report templates, reporting at Drexel is now fast and painless (and saves 0.5 FTE).
Of course, Drexel’s digital pathology workflow encompasses more than reporting. Fortunately, Flow supports a variety of use-cases, all with equal efficiency. For Mark Zarella, Director of the Advanced Pathology Imaging Lab, then, transitioning to Pathcore was a chance to streamline the organization as a whole.
For Drexel’s pathologists, Flow’s viewing platform was a major improvement over their existing solutions. “The viewer in Flow is really nice” Zarella explains. “It’s fast, moving is fluid and smooth, and zooming isn’t choppy”. Flow’s viewer also supports easy metadata entry, an essential feature by Zarella’s account. “While analyzing IHC slides, the pathologists can enter data while the slide is on the viewer screen, instead of having to leave and go to another virtual location for data entry.” Slide labels are accessible too, without extra steps or windows: “[the pathologists] also appreciate being able to access the slide label while viewing a WSI, an important quality control step in the workflow”.
Flow’s viewing and organization features are a boon to teleconsulting, as well. “While each pathologist performs their work in a standard (non-digital) manner, having a usable platform for reviewing and confirming results as well as getting others’ opinions has been invaluable” Zarella explains. “Pathologists can now focus on their core functions without having to manually perform every step to get data in a system”. Flow empowers organized collaboration, and that saves time - freeing up pathologist’s schedules for more pathology and less data entry.
Training pathologists is always a challenge - communicating intricate case material to large classrooms is a source of pressure for instructors and students alike. Since adopting Pathcore, however, the instructors at Drexel’s pathology training program have used Flow to ease that buden. Flow’s web-accessible viewer allows instructors to present WSIs with newfound ease. “Our 20 pathology residents learn how to scan slides using a second scanner dedicated to education. They create WSIs after hours, prepare materials for tumor boards, conferences and other presentations using Flow. The fluidity of the viewer feels like live-viewing to the audience.”
That’s good news for students, but the improvements are helping faculty, too. "The quality of the presentations using Flow’s viewer has been noticed by other departments. It’s impressing colleagues, and generally creating a good reputation for the pathology training program here at Drexel,” Zarella says.
Drexel’s final use-case is research - Flow assists multiple groups outside of the pathology department that use WSI to further their studies. Zarella’s lab provides support by processing tissue, scanning slides, and setting up access to the data in Flow. Afterwhich, researchers do their own analysis.
With extra time, Zarella is now in a position to move his own research forward. Leveraging Flow, he’s applying his neuroscience background to visual processing and decision theory, examining machine learning for pathologist support. He’s excited to organize study data and share subsets with collaborators from Flow’s interface. “Understanding emerging AI technology, creating explainable AI solutions, and helping pathologists apply them with confidence are some of my goals,” says Zarella.
By now, the benefits of Flow have been felt across all of Drexel. “The Dean’s office has been supportive of the technology, seeing it as a benefit to the whole medical school, not just the pathology department” Zarella says. “Everyone is happier”.