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Telepathology for Patient Care: What Am I Getting Myself Into?

Williams, Saunya MS*; Henricks, Walter H. MD; Becich, Michael J. MD, PhD; Toscano, Michael MD§; Carter, Alexis B. MD§

Advances in Anatomic Pathology: March 2010 - Volume 17 - Issue 2 - p 130-149
doi: 10.1097/PAP.0b013e3181cfb788
Review Articles

The vast advancements in telecommunications and converting medical information to a digital format have increased the number of applications within telemedicine. Telepathology, in simplest terms, is the practice of formally rendering a pathologic diagnosis based upon examination of an image rather than of a glass slide through traditional microscopy. The use of telepathology for clinical patient care has so far been limited to relatively few large academic institutions. Although a number of challenges remain, there is increasing demand for the use of information technology in pathology as a whole owing to the expansion of health care networks and the opportunity to enhance the quality of service delivered to patients. The software used to acquire, display, and manage digital images for clinical patient care may be subject to national and federal regulations just as is any other electronic information system. Despite the barriers, telepathology systems possess the capability to help manage pathology cases on a global scale, improve laboratory workload distribution, increase standardization of practice and enable new classes of ancillary studies to facilitate diagnosis and education even in the most remote parts of the earth.

*School of Electrical and Computer Engineering, Georgia Institute of Technology

Pathology and Laboratory Medicine Institute, Cleveland Clinic

Department of Biomedical Informatics, University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine

§Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine, Emory University

Funding: None.

Reprints: Alexis B. Carter, MD, Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine, Emory University Hospital, Room F149A, 1364 Clifton Road NE, Atlanta, GA 30322 (e-mail:

© 2010 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.