Pathology 2.0

| April 21, 2009

This is an article I had an opportunity to write for ADVANCE for Administrators of the Laboratory in conjunction with a recent article entitled "Integrating Digital Pathology" in this month's issue.  My thanks to the publisher and Kelly Graham, assistant editor.

I will also present this topic at the upcoming CAP Futurescape meeting this June.

The term "Web 2.0" refers to a perceived second generation of Web development and design that aims to facilitate communication, secure information sharing, offer ability and collaboration on the Internet. Web 2.0 concepts have led to the development and evolution of Web-based communities, hosted services and applications, such as social-networking sites, video-sharing sites, wikis and blogs.  

The term was first used by Dale Dougherty and Craig Cline and became notable after the O'Reilly Media Web suggested a new version of the World Wide Web. It does not refer to an update to any technical specifications, but rather to changes in the way software developers and users utilize the Web.

According to time to Tim O'Reilly, "Web 2.0 is the business revolution in the computer industry caused by the move to the Internet as a platform, and in an attempt to understand the worlds for success on that new platform." Tim Berners-Lee, inventor of the Web, has questioned whether one can use the term in any meaningful way, since many of the technological components of Web 2.0 have existed since the early days of the Web.

Regardless of whether you view Web 2.0 as new or simply a modification of existing Internet technologies, Web 2.0 technologies allow users to do more than just retrieve information. The Web 2.0 tool/technologies allow content by users for users that is interactive and dynamic rather than static information being retrieved without input.

Changing Nature of Pathology

Because of the image-intense nature of anatomic pathology and traditional educational and clinical business practices (i.e., atlases, case sharing and consultation among colleagues), there is opportunity for incredible synergy between anatomic pathology and Web 2.0 technology vis-à-vis, Pathology 2.0.

The user-participatory nature of Web 2.0 allows for openness, freedom and collective intelligence. This expanded user experience, dynamic content and harnessing of collective intelligence in a simple fashion provide for the easy exchanged, sharing and delivery of all sorts of information with comment and discussion. Several examples of this currently exist, from image sharing sites on Flickr to Aperio's Second Slide consultation (www.secondslide.com) hosting service to BioImagene's PathXchange (www.pathxchange.org). Other examples that facilitate pathology image sharing include Med Pix (rad.usuhs.mil/medpix/) and Medting (www.medting.com). Sites such as MyPACS.net (www.mypacs.net) also allow for the creation of pathology teaching files in ways to data share and collaborate.

New Wave

Other technologies such as social media sites (Facebook and Youtube) also allow users to post and share collective intelligence for research, educational and clinical practice. Again, the ability for content by users for users in a simple and accessible format allow glass slides (more accurately, images derived from glass slides) to be shared and viewed in a way that extends beyond institutional walls takes advantage of Web 2.0.

My Digital Pathology Blog at www.tissuepathology.com serves to educate pathologists and the pathology community on the deliverables of digital pathology, current news and events and applications in education, research and clinical practice. This is a form of "academic blogging" that may be timely or relevant to interested audience participants. It also allows for collaboration between industry and practitioners to expand the community, enhance the discussion, promote the technology and offer opinion from my perspective while also allowing others to comment, criticize and share in an open and dynamic dialog. Blogging allows users to share content and ideas, gives others a sense of your own work and interests and in my case, as an academic pathologist, allows a platform for non-peer reviewed writing that is original and unedited content (for better or worse). This extends into other networking opportunities.

Certainly these are disruptive technologies that some may not be comfortable with or feel have a place in medicine or pathology. There is a level of transparency to which we all must grow accustomed that extends far beyond our own microscope and slide storage rooms. The real value is in the collective intelligence that can now be harnessed.

Web 2.0 is about the next generation of applications on the Internet, featuring user-generated content, collaboration and community and offers technology to expand our horizons and to showcase our specialty of anatomic pathology like never before.


Category: Blogs, Conferences, Digital Pathology News, General Healthcare News, Web/Tech

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