Sunday, October 16, 2011

Review of Pathology Informatics 2011

Author: Riley Alexander, MD, MBA

I meant to do this at the conference, but got a little tied up in everything and just put it off. I wanted to sum up some of the interesting things I saw this year. For one, if you're a medical resident or student and ever wondered if business is a part of medicine...go to a medical informatics conference. You will see many presentation that would seem just as fitting inside an MBA classroom as they would in business, particularly in operations.

One of the big features of the conference is always digital pathology. It's amazing what can change in just one year. I went last year to the conference and, while impressed and excited about a more digital future for pathology, I left thinking they just weren't "getting it." Well, it seems they have listened. Instead of trying to replicate a radiologist's workflow, they've finally realized we're pathologists and tried to work around how we work. Image speed (a big issue in path as color-scanned whole slide images make the file size of a CT seem tiny) has vastly improved as had the work flow. I was particulary impressed with the work done by Omnyx, who I was able to tour their facilities as they're headquartered in Pittsburgh.

Another of the big topics was just data flow and, in particular with molecular testing. Molecular testing is revolutionizing cancer diagnostics and therapy and pathologists and clinicians alike are facing an ever-growing amount of tests to keep up with and incorporate into classical reports.

The future looks bright for sure and I encourage any of the residents out there to try and attend some type of informatics conference during their residency if they can. It may feel very foreign to those without a business or tech background, but it provides a great chance to see how the practice of medicine is evolving.

About the author:

Dr. Riley Alexander is a pathology resident at Indiana University School of Medicine, blog "addict" and avid follower of technology. His primary interests revolve around how technology, especially mobile, will create increased efficiency, enhanced physician education and better delivery of care in the medical field. Dr. Alexander is a graduate of Indiana University School of Medicine with a combined MD/MBA, in partnership with IU's Kelley School of Business. Due to this, he is also very interested in management, healthcare policy and non-clinical aspects of the medical field and enjoys exploring non-clinical opportunities for medical students, residents and physicians. He completed his undergraduate education at IU-Bloomington.

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