The 2013 symposium on pathology data integration and clinical decision support and the current state of field.


Baron JM, Dighe AS, Arnaout R, Balis UJ, Black-Schaffer SW, Carter AB, Henricks WH, Higgins JM, Jackson BR, Kim J, Klepeis VE, Le LP, Louis DN, Mandelker D, Mermel CH, Michaelson JS, Nagarajan R, Platt ME, Quinn AM, Rao L, Shirts BH, Gilbertson JR. The 2013 symposium on pathology data integration and clinical decision support and the current state of field. J Pathol Inform 2014;5:2.

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BACKGROUND: Pathologists and informaticians are becoming increasingly interested in electronic clinical decision support for pathology, laboratory medicine and clinical diagnosis. Improved decision support may optimize laboratory test selection, improve test result interpretation and permit the extraction of enhanced diagnostic information from existing laboratory data. Nonetheless, the field of pathology decision support is still developing. To facilitate the exchange of ideas and preliminary studies, we convened a symposium entitled: Pathology data integration and clinical decision support. METHODS: The symposium was held at the Massachusetts General Hospital, on May 10, 2013. Participants were selected to represent diverse backgrounds and interests and were from nine different institutions in eight different states. RESULTS: The day included 16 plenary talks and three panel discussions, together covering four broad areas. Summaries of each presentation are included in this manuscript. CONCLUSIONS: A number of recurrent themes emerged from the symposium. Among the most pervasive was the dichotomy between diagnostic data and diagnostic information, including the opportunities that laboratories may have to use electronic systems and algorithms to convert the data they generate into more useful information. Differences between human talents and computer abilities were described; well-designed symbioses between humans and computers may ultimately optimize diagnosis. Another key theme related to the unique needs and challenges in providing decision support for genomics and other emerging diagnostic modalities. Finally, many talks relayed how the barriers to bringing decision support toward reality are primarily personnel, political, infrastructural and administrative challenges rather than technological limitations.