Digitized Whole Slides for Breast Pathology Interpretation: Pathologists Use and Perceptions
Tracy Onega, Kimberly H Allison, Natalia Ostler, Joann Elmore, Donald L Weaver. University of Washington, Seattle, WA; Dartmouth School of Medicine, Hanover, NH; University of Vermont, Burlingame, VT
Background: Digital whole slide imaging (WSI) is an emerging technology for pathology interpretation. Little is known about patterns of use among pathologists or their perceptions of WSI for breast pathology interpretation. This study characterizes use of WSI among a national sample of pathologists and examines their perceptions of this technology.
Design: We surveyed a national sample of eligible pathologists from New Hampshire, Vermont, Washington, Oregon, Arizona, Alaska, Maine, and Minnesota in this cross-sectional, descriptive study. Pathologists' self-reported professional characteristics and WSI practice patterns and then responded to perception statements about WSI using a 6-point Likert Scale. Descriptive analyses were used to summarize and characterize pathologists' use and perceptions of WSI.
Results: Ages of the 175 pathologists surveyed to date were: <40 (11%); 40-49 (32%); 50-59 (38%); and ≥60 (19%) years. 26% of pathologists surveyed were affiliated with an academic medical center and 74% were not. Utilization of WSI was reported by 46% of pathologists. Types of use reported included: CME/board exams/teaching (28%), tumor board/clinical conference (18%), archival purposes (5%), consultative diagnosis (3%), research (2%), primary pathology diagnosis (1%), and other uses (11%). 9% used WSI for IHC interpretation and <1% for H&E diagnosis. Answers to questions on perceptions of WSI suggest that most agree that accurate diagnoses can be made with this technology (79% agree), and that WSI is useful for obtaining a second opinion (86% agree). (Figure 1) At the same time, 80% of pathologists agree that digital slides are too slow for routine initial interpretation. Potential barriers to use of WSI such as increased exposure to medical malpractice suits and difficulty learning how to use WSI did not appear to be of great concern for most pathologists. When asked if the benefits of WSI outweigh the concerns, 60% agree, and 40% disagree. Half of pathologists agree they would like to adopt WSI (52%) while the other half disagree (48%).
Conclusions: While the majority of pathologists do not currently use WSI, perceptions towards this technology are somewhat positive. Pathologists' current use of WSI is largely for CME, licensure/board exams, and teaching. Practice patterns for this emerging technology should be tracked as dissemination advances.
Wednesday, March 6, 2013 1:00 PM
Poster Session VI # 264, Wednesday Afternoon