Anoto Digital Pen & Paper technology has helped reduce waiting lists for breast cancer screening in France by shortening the time it takes to analyse mammograms. Normal turnaround times of up to three hours were reduced to less than 30 minutes. This means that breast cancer screening centres using the digital pen will be ready for the second stage of France’s national ‘Plan Cancer’ programme, set to start early in 2008.
As part of the ‘Plan Cancer’ programme, all French women between the age of 50 and 75 are offered mammography every two years. According to French law, the screening result has to be interpreted twice: once by the examining radiologist and then by a second expert. The expert reviews the examining radiologist’s notes and scrutinizes the mammogram, using the digital pen and special paper. The pen remembers what is written or drawn, and this data is transmitted back to a PC or back-end server where character recognition is performed on it.
This procedure used to be performed by administrative staff without any medical training, and was prone to errors – a risk that has been virtually eliminated by the use of Digital Pen & Paper (DPP). A visual check of the digital forms is now only required in less than five per cent of cases, giving the DPP-based solution an accuracy of more than 95 per cent.
Faster processing of the results should mean that screening centres can meet the legal requirement of sending out results within two weeks of the examination, and schedule new appointments more quickly.
One of the health centres that has implemented DPP technology is in the French Département of Haute Garonne. Its medical co-ordinator, Dr Lepec, commented: “For us, the time reduction that the digital technology has brought us means that we can initiate the new screening programme earlier. After 15 months’ experience of Anoto’s technology, the data transfer has become almost 100 per cent reliable. No working routines have been changed and the system has been functioning without interruption.”
The digital pen is now used in 12 of France’s 90 Départements. This year alone, around 200,000 mammograms have been performed with the help of Anoto’s DPP technology in France. On average, each Département runs 30,000 breast cancer scans every year. The long-term objective is to equip the 45 Départements who perform the most scans with DPP technology.
The Digital Pen & Paper (DPP) solution has been developed by Forms Management Systems, based on Anoto’s technology. It is integrated with the NeoScope information transfer software from EpiConcept. The digital pen looks and feels like a normal ballpoint pen. It contains an integrated digital camera and uses a USB or Bluetooth connection for fixed or wireless transfer. The digital camera enables users to capture, store and securely transfer data, using special dotted paper. Almost invisible to the naked eye, the Anoto pattern on the paper consists of numerous intelligent black dots that can be read by the digital pen. The pattern indicates the digital pen’s exact position and as the pattern on each paper sheet is unique the sheets can be separated from one another.