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The Laval University (Québec) virtual slide telepathology project; A structured patient-oriented network involving 21 sites Bernard Têtu MD, Medical director Christine Houde MD, Jean Boulanger Co-chairs, telehealth steering committee, Laval University Québec, Canada
Canada: 34, 108, 752 Québec: 7, 907, 375
1,729,000 408,760 Km2 Integrated University Health Networks
Density of population and Distribution of pathologists on the territory 2 7 1 3 30 5
History of the project • August 2004: • Quebec MOH mandates the Integrated University Health Networks to develop telehealth in the province. • Laval University prioritizes telepathology • Fall 2004: • Creation of telehealth steering committee • Spring 2005: • Survey on needs and services in the territory
Telepathology – clinical context Surgeon’s perspective • Part-time pathologists available: • Schedule of operations depends on the presence of a pathologist • Difficulty recruiting surgeons
Telepathology – clinical context Surgeon’s perspective • No pathology department but oncologic surgery: • Two-step surgeries (sentinel lymph node) • Patient transferred if frozen section expected • Resection margins not available • Difficulty recruiting surgeons
Telepathology – clinical context Pathologist’s perspective • Insecurity, especially in early practice • Impossibility to rapidly obtain a second opinion • IHC performed in university hospitals: delays to get slides back • Limited continued medical education
Telepathology – clinical context Pathologist’s perspective • Difficulty in being absent without disturbing the organization of the surgical unit • Average age of pathologists increasing and entries in residency stable: worsening of the shortage is expected • Resources merely adequate, even in university hospitals
Telepathology – clinical context Reports of Commissions of Inquiry in Canada Creaghan Commission, New Brunswick: Recommendation #12: The Department of Health study and plan for the potential of providing pathology services for regional hospital laboratories through new technology in the field of pathology digital imaging and computer transmission…
Telepathology – clinical context Reports of Commissions of Inquiry in Canada Cameron Commission, Newfoundland: Recommendation #24: The Department of Health and Community Services should also ensure that adequate resources are available to fund technical resources such as telemedicine technology, particularly for pathologists who work alone, as well as new technology in the field of pathology digital imaging and computer transmission.
History of the project • January 2006: • Project charter accepted by the MOH and Canada Health Infoway; phase 0 • Summer 2006: • Extensive consultation of medical teams and professionals to better identify needs and services required • January 2007: • MOH authorizes the continuation of the project toward further steps • 6,136,662$ covered equally by MOH and CHI
History of the project • Summer 2008: • Request for proposals • October 2008: • Call for tender (slide scanner, gross station/videoconferencing and viewer) • April 2009: • Compliancy testing of technologies (pathologists, technologists, experts in information and change management)
History of the project • Summer 2009: • Final choice of solutions • Fall 2009: • Contracts, agreements on physician’s fees • January 2010: • Deployment and validation • January 2011: • Expected completion of the deployment
Aims of the project Main objective • Implement an innovative solution to provide uniform pathology services in the whole Laval University Health Network territory
Aims of the project Specific objectives • Provide frozen sections anywhere, anytime • Provide second opinion from a colleague or a panel of experts • Allow fast return of IHC performed in university hospitals
Aims of the project Deployment • 21 sites (3 additional possible sites) • 6 hospitals devoid of pathology laboratory • 15 sites with pathology laboratory • 7 with 1 pathologist • 7 with 2 or more pathologists • 1 with no pathologist
Expected volume of activities • Over 2000 frozen sections and second opinions • Over 4000 immunohistochemistries returned by telepathology
Governance of the project Electronic medical record, MOH Telehealth executive committee Project manager Medical director Committee of experts Management committee 6 health authorities
Committee of experts • 18 members from university and community hospitals • Mandate: • Propose organizational models • Develop clinical protocols • Evaluate and select solutions • Advise executive and management committees • Advise on the deployment of the project (cohesion, respect of project charter)
Conclusions: strengths of the project • For patients: • Improved medical cares • Decreased transfers to regional hospitals • Faster diagnoses and treatment • For pathologists: • Easier access to second opinion • Decreased professional isolation • For organizations: • Easier recruitment of surgeons and pathologists • Less movement of pathologists = efficiency • Easily transportable technology
Future direction • Grant application: • « Partnerships for health system improvement » • Canadian Institutes of Health Research • Objectives: • General: evaluation of telepathology to improve the quality of cares
Future direction • Specific objectives: • Patients: • Transfers prevented • two step surgeries prevented • Pathologists • Consultations performed • TAT for cases with IHC • Overall satisfaction • Organisations : • Stability of the frozen section coverage • Time saved to start treatment • Retention of pathologists and surgeons