Impacts of a large and decentralized telepathology network in Canada
journal contributionposted on 24.05.2021, 20:51 by Guy Paré, Julien Meyer, Marie-Claude Trudel, Bernard Têtu
Background: Telepathology is one of the fast growing segment of the telemedicine field and Canada is recognized as a world leader in this particular domain. . Introduction: We report a benefits evaluation study of a decentralized telepathology network deployed in Eastern Quebec. The project involves 18 hospitals, making it one of the largest telepathology networks in the world. Materials and Methods: We first conducted 43 semi-structured interviews with telepathology users and managers. Hard data on the impacts of the telepathology network (e.g. the number of service disruptions, the average time between initial diagnosis and surgery) was also extracted and analyzed, where available. Results: Users found the system to be easy to use and the quality of the virtual slides and images was also considered satisfactory by pathologists. A key objective was to provide continuous coverage of intraoperative consultations in hospitals with no pathologist. Our findings show that no service disruptions were recorded in the se sites. Surgeons agreed that the use of telepathology helped avoid second surgeries and improved accessibility to care services. Telepathology was also perceived by respondents as having positive impacts on remote hospitals’ ability to retain and recruit specialists. Discussion: The observed benefits should not leave the impression that implementing telepathology is a trivial matter. Indeed, many technical, human and organizational challenges may be encountered. Conclusions: Telepathology can be highly useful in regional hospitals that do not have a pathologist on site. More research is needed to investigate the challenges and benefits associated with this growing form of telemedicine.