EDITORIAL NOTE : MEDICINE GOING DIGITAL
R.G. Wiseman Pinto
In today’s world, our lives, as well as the different areas of Medicine, are evolving to become ‘Digital’. The latest technological advancements are being used for teaching and learning purposes, in clinical medicine for diagnostic and treatment purposes, in governance and administration of new medical laws and ethics, in conducting examinations, conferences, continuing medical education (CME) seminars, in clinical trials for approval of new drugs, and in varied other research and academic programmes.
As in most branches of Medicine, Pathology is also navigating towards a digital path. The various facets of digital pathology include whole slide scanning and imaging systems, remote diagnosis and telepathology, pathology informatics and digital instrumentation. There is a massive shift towards the ‘Globalisation of Medicine’ through ‘Digitalisation of Medicine’.
Different modules of teaching and learning are employed for educational purposes like computer based questions, quiz examinations, master banks for MCQ’s (multiple choice questions), image based identification and questions, online discussion of clinical cases, morphological assessment, gross and microscopy, webinars (Web-based seminars) used to telecast real time CME’s and conferences and the use of the internet with websites such as www.patho-india.com
The undergraduate teaching process has become far easier and student friendly. The postgraduate students get more information from digital sources, as well as pathology groups and the internet. This also helps them in their eTheses, eLog Book and portfolios, journal clubs, clinical case presentations, group discussions, CPC’s (Clinico Pathological Conferences) and seminars via online portals. There are also online tutorials, teaching programmes and other online modules. Attending some CME’s and conferences can be a totally digital experience with eRegistration, online payment, online submission of abstracts, ePosters, and receiving eCertificates. There are also eMuseums, eSpecimens and ePublications.
Networking opportunities have increased manifold. It has also made the search for career and job opportunities easier as now with the internet any open positions in various institutes and organisations can be identified and applied for with ease.
Digital Pathology has converted from the conventional analog art to a digital science with digital solutions like barcoding, generation and dispatch of electronic eReports, online purchase and tendering of equipment, reagents and chemicals.
The advantages of Digital Pathology are manifold, such as, enabling a large digital database for records, minimising the need for paper, furniture and space, there is easy long-term archiving and retrieval, non-existent fading or bleaching of slides, tissue microarray analysis, it is cost saving, it allows in vivo microscopy and in vivo imaging.
Whole slide imaging systems are rapid and have a good resolution. This allows the same slide to be viewed by several pathologists at the same time and from any location, which is useful for case discussions and to obtain expert opinions. Hence, the quality and efficiency of diagnosis are improved while reporting these cases. This benefits the patients and their families, as well as, the doctors directly involved who can also upgrade their knowledge from these expert opinions.
Besides eMedicine, eGovernance is rapidly catching up. Soon Medicine will become totally digital and virtual.
R.G. Wiseman Pinto