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Standards and specifications in pathology: image management, report management and terminology.

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University of Paris Descartes, Paris, France.


For making medical decisions, healthcare professionals require that all necessary information is both correct and easily available. Collaborative Digital Anatomic Pathology refers to the use of information technology that supports the creation and sharing or exchange of information, including data and images, during the complex workflow performed in an Anatomic Pathology department from specimen reception to report transmission and exploitation. Collaborative Digital Anatomic Pathology is supported by standardization efforts toward knowledge representation for sharable and computable clinical information. The goal of the international integrating the Healthcare Enterprise (IHE) initiative is precisely specifying how medical informatics standards should be implemented to meet specific health care needs and making systems integration more efficient and less expensive. The IHE Anatomic Pathology initiative was launched to implement the best use of medical informatics standards in order to produce, share and exchange machine-readable structured reports and their evidences (including whole slide images) within hospitals and across healthcare facilities. DICOM supplements 122 and 145 provide flexible object information definitions dedicated respectively to specimen description and WSI acquisition, storage and display. The profiles "Anatomic Pathology Reporting for Public Health" (ARPH) and "Anatomic Pathology Structured Report" (APSR) provide standard templates and transactions for sharing or exchanging structured reports in which textual observations - encoded using PathLex, an international controlled vocabulary currently being mapped to SNOMED CT concepts - may be bound to digital images or regions of interest in images. Current implementations of IHE Anatomic Pathology profiles in North America, France and Spain demonstrate the applicability of recent advances in standards for Collaborative Digital Anatomic Pathology. The use of machine-readable format of Anatomic Pathology information supports the development of computer-based decision support as well as secondary use of Anatomic Pathology information for research or public health.

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