Affordable and Simple Digital Pathology by Smartphone: the Indian Experience

Background:

Teaching and learning microscopic morphology is tricky and tedious, and demonstrating microscopic features to foster understanding is often frustrating. This leads to large amounts of wasted time in conventional teaching. Practicing pathologists also need affordable hardware and software to share, preserve and print histopathology images. The solution we discovered was to exploit the popularity and technological potential of smartphones and their associated technologies.

Material and Methods:

Taking photomicrographs by mobile camera requires a steady hand and ingenuity. By connecting the camera to the eyepiece, either manually or with the help of an adaptor, I’ve been able to capture quality images even with an 8-megapixel camera on a basic binocular microscope. We can now utilize bluetooth or image sharing apps to share with students and colleagues, and images are made easier to store, edit and print for documentation purposes. I shared this innovation on the website PathoIndia; it was well appreciated and was published as a PowerPoint article in May 2015.

Our Experience:

We have tried to popularize this innovation in WhatsApp groups. Admins of groups are well-qualified, experienced and motivated senior consultants interested in sharing their knowledge and experience. They arrange regular CME meetings for practicing pathologists. We have many such groups, including Thane Pathologists Association (161 members), VMMC Pathologists Group (59 members), Thane Hematology Group (71 members), and Surgical Pathology Group (5 members). Everyone is enthusiastic, and many (over 50 pathologists practicing and teaching) of them have utilized this technological shortcut.

Over 500 interesting cases have been discussed in the last two years (June 2015-2017). In a recent APPI (Association of Practicing pathologists of India) conference, a poster on smartphone photomicrography was awarded 1st prize by popular vote. Further, we have shared images and videos gathered and distributed using smartphone technology in clinical meetings. Clinicians from around the world can now appreciate our work and contribution in clinical practice. Medical college professors from Mumbai, Ambala, Solapur and beyond have started using these devices for undergraduate and postgraduate teaching, and local colleges have arranged visits of biotechnology students to my lab to learn how to best use this innovation in their field.

Further Scope:

Standardization and customization of smartphone technologies in pathology can change with the requirements and budget of the user. However, to better use these technologies requires the development of user-friendly apps for teaching purposes, for practicing pathologists, and for telepathology, an immensely useful tool to aid primary healthcare facilities where specialist resources are scarce.

Disclaimer: In seeking to foster discourse on a wide array of ideas, the Digital Pathology Association believes that it is important to share a range of prominent industry viewpoints. This article does not necessarily express the viewpoints of the DPA, however we view this as a valuable point with which to facilitate discussion.

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7 comments on “Affordable and Simple Digital Pathology by Smartphone: the Indian Experience

  • Dr Anupama Varma says:

    I have using adapter to take micro photographs since 1 yr, n sharing with pathologists n clinicians.
    In whatsapp groups v r sharing do much pathology material n learning so much..

    I congratulate Dr Patwardhan fr making this innovative adapter n helping entire Pathologists community…
    Well done…Dr Patwardhan

    Reply
  • Dr Anupama Varma says:

    I am Pathologist practicing since 18 yrs.
    I am using this adapter to take micro photographs since 1 yr, n sharing with pathologists n clinicians.
    In whatsapp groups v r sharing so much pathology material n learning so much..

    V r thankful to Dr Patwardhan fr making this innovative adapter n helping all of us…
    Well done Dr Patwardhan, Best luck…
    Dr Anupama Varma

    Reply
  • Patwardhan Sanjeev says:

    Dear Rupendra,
    We could achieve close cooperation by forming social media groups: whatsapp groups lead by admin with social sense and good academic experience. You can start similarly by bringing together your pathology colleagues and sharing interesting cases within this circle. Initial numbers could be less but participation will increase for sure. While sharing cases patients confidentiality and guidelines for telepathology should be kept in mind. Also limitations of opinion given is to be considered as differential diagnosis and not as final diagnosis. Group members should be responsible to understand that this should not be a platform for casual comment/ self promotion. Messages of academic interest should be encouraged.
    Remember this is a teamwork.
    Rest of things will depend on your academic interest and enthusiasm.
    Best wishes,
    Patwardhan Sanjeev

    Reply
    • Hi Sanjeev
      I was impressed with your posts. I was wondering if you would be interested sharing pathology images for assistance with diagnosis and learning with a larger group so as to bring together all the disparate pathologists across India once done with JR training. Thanks

      Reply

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