Are you wondering if telepathology will benefit your clinic? Are you afraid you don’t know enough about telepathology scanners to make them useful in your office?
Maybe you recently applied telepathology to your system and want to learn some great tips? Telepathology is 74% more accurate than onsite pathology.
If you want to learn some great tips to help with telepathology and telepathology scanners, keep reading.
Is Telepathology Right for Your Practice?
Before we dive into the tips promised above let’s talk about if moving to telepathology is right for your practice. Are you digitally competent? Even if you’re not you can still switch to telepathology with some help.
You can hire someone who’s an expert or at least competent in the field of telepathology. Maybe you’re afraid your office doesn’t have the updated equipment and technology to make the switch?
That’s OK. You can implement single or lower throughput scanners and you’ll surely save money long-term without spending too much upfront.
You should ask yourself what exactly you want to accomplish with digital pathology and move forward from there. When you are able to answer that question you’ll realize if telepathology is right for your situation.
Most likely it will be when you go over the pros and cons.
What are the System Types?
There are three types of telepathology systems. There are real-time systems, image-based systems, and virtual slide systems.
Real-time and virtual slide systems offer you a much broader spectrum to evaluate the patient. But, you may find that at times of high network usage you experience some delays and lag time.
1. Tissue Preparation
First and foremost you need to have the correct tissue preparation. If you don’t, it won’t matter how good your scanner is. The standard size to use is 3-5 cm if you’re scanning a single plane image.
Make sure the tissue doesn’t get wrinkled or stained. Use glass coverslips whenever you can instead of plastic.
Don’t allow any air bubbles in as well. And remember, telepathology scanners have a much smaller focus range than a regular scope.
2. Inspect Your Slides
Equally as important as tissue prep is thoroughly inspecting your slides. Make sure they’re cleaned and checked before you scan them.
You should have a system in place that is used on each and every scan. You can start by making sure there are no fingerprints on the slides and that they’re not sticky.
Ensure there’s no oil and the slides aren’t overlapping. Check to make sure there are no circling tissues or arrows. And lastly, that there are no pieces of mounting media.
3. Doublecheck Slide Scanning
If your scanner doesn’t pick up all the tissue or for some reason, there’s debris on the scan then you’ll have an unacceptable scan. Watch out for any distortions or background staining.
Make sure the focus is automatic and look out for debris at the focus points. If it’s an oil scan, be sure that it won’t become dry throughout while not allowing for too much oil.
4. Damaged Slides
Damaged slides can still be scanned and sometimes when this happens your scanner will eat up the slides.
Some scanners actually have a design flaw and damage slides when they’re going through the scanning process. After the scanner damages the slide it will actually consume them.
Most scanners are designed to handle broken slides but if your scanner is defective or isn’t able to handle these you need to have it maintenance right away.
If you don’t have a scanner with this defect, then you can still scan broken or chipped slides, and they’ll work out OK. But, you need to scan them one at a time.
The best way to remedy this situation is to do a test run of an imperfect slide and see what happens.
5. Big Slides for Telaphotlogy Scanners
Handling bigger slides for telepathology scanners comes with its own issues. Not all telepathology scanners are set up to handle non-standard or bigger slide images.
You should make sure your scanner is ready to handle these before running them. If the slide is bigger than 1×3 you need to do a test or set up your scanner to fit those capabilities or else your work will be void.
Lastly, you should not forget about barcodes. Sometimes barcodes have problems. They should be printed at the top of a 1×3 standard slide. On occasion, they won’t be and that will cause a problem for you.
Your scanner will always think the barcode is at the top of standard-sized slides. If it’s not you can input the slide manually and everything will be fine. Always remember to check for this.
Make a Cheat Sheet
The best thing to do after reading this is to make a cheat sheet. Set it up in a convenient place for telepathologist’s to see every time they run a scan.
This will cut down on lost time and frustration while making the whole process run smoother.
You’ll have significantly fewer poor scans and be able to get patients the help they need much more quickly.
You can place several bulleted cheat sheets around the office and lab.
Implementing Telepathology Scanners
Switching to telepathology and telepathology scanners might seem daunting, but, it will most likely be of benefit to you and your clinic.
You don’t want to get left behind in today’s digital world. Medicine is changing faster than it ever has and if you keep up with its advances you’ll prosper and so will your clinic.
Simply by reading this piece you’ll feel empowered.
By understanding telepathology is right for you, knowing the systems, and implementing tips such as preparing the tissue correctly, handling slides, and dealing with damaged ones.
Also, by double-checking everything, remembering about barcode placement, and making a cheat sheet.
These six tips will get you ready to make the transition to telepathology and get the most out of telepathology scanners. Contact us today to get started.