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May 2012: Computer software and systems

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Computer Software and Systems Applications in Pathology
Jaleh Mansouri, M.D.

Computer software and systems have a wide and diverse range of applications in the field of pathology. The major applications encompass anatomic pathology and laboratory information systems, automation of laboratory instrumentation, quantitative and image data analysis (e.g. flow cytometry and immunohistochemistry, respectively) as well as scanning and digital image processing. The anatomic pathology and laboratory information components may exist either separately or be combined into one software program.

Essential elements of a standard software package include streamlined workflow, integration of patient information into comprehensive report formats, specimen/case tracking, critical value reporting, secure data transmission, and error detection with appropriate quality assurance protocols. Features that may significantly vary among different programs include the degree of user-friendliness, ability to interface with the hospital's health information system/electronic medical record system, and cost. The selection of an appropriate and cost-effective pathology software package should involve close collaboration between members of the pathology department and the hospital's information technology services.

Most current anatomic pathology and laboratory information software programs are Windows-based, although some of these programs can run on Macintosh-based platforms. Software packages for specific applications are most often commercial-based but can be customized or even created in-house, depending on the laboratory's needs, financial resources, and available expertise.

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Past / future feature pages:

January 2012: Billing / consulting / management
February 2012: Microscopes / slide imaging
March 2012: Tissue processors / other histology
April 2012: Laboratory Accreditation / Education / CME

June 2012: Diagnostic testing / reagents
July 2012: Imaging / digital / photography
August 2012: Books & Journals
September 2012: Antibodies
October 2012: Laboratories
November 2012: Consumable Lab Products / Clinical Lab Analyzers
December 2012: Grossing workstations / lab furniture
January 2013: Billing / consulting / management
February 2013: Microscopes / slide imaging
March 2013: Tissue processors / other histology
April 2013: Laboratory Accreditation / Education / CME
May 2013: Computer software and systems

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