A Cytopathology Quality Assurance Programme, at Queen Mary Hospital, The University of Hong Kong, was successfully run using PathXL.
Recognising the growing use of virtual microscopy in daily work flow, programme leader Dr Rob Collins, decided to run the QA programme online. i-Path scanned the glass slides into digital format for use as virtual slides, made accessible online using PathXL, i-Path’s web-based system. PathXL allowed all participants to view and score the virtual slides online, storing all results in a central online database. The programme was organised as a training exercise after the APLAC/PTB Proficiency Testing Training Workshop in Hanoi, Vietnam. In September 2009, the results were presented to the Asia Pacific Laboratory Accreditation Cooperation (APLAC) in Bangkok.
Programme participants were cytopathologists from 11 laboratories from participating economies of the APLAC/PTB PT training workshop in Hanoi including Australia, China, Hong Kong, Chinese Taipei, Malaysia and Singapore.
The web-based system was new to many participants who were more familiar with glass slide-based programmes, however the approach was positively received. The results of the programme state “A web-based Cytology Proficiency Testing system has a number of advantages both for the initial organizing and day-to-day running of a programme.”
The programme report commends the following features of Virtual Microscopy based QA programmes:
- The internet allows rapid and widespread participation without the need for costly complex couriering of glass slides with the constant risk of breakage and loss. As such, an entire programme can be completed very rapidly while still allowing participants to examine cases at their own speed, be it at work, at home or other sites.
- With the speed comes the ability for the results to be quickly sent to individual participants and allow review of cases for which they may have given an answer different to the expected response.”
- “A web based cytology PT programme allows widespread participation across a broad geographical spectrum.”
- “the use of web-based images with scanning capability and on-line responses was both novel and opened up many new options for Proficiency Testing development. Thus our presentation of results was warmly and enthusiastically received.”
Mr Adam Askew, Software Developer at i-Path commented “The i-Path team are very excited about the positive response from this programme’s participants to web-based QA programmes. We believe that PathXL brings efficiencies of time and costs to both the participants, and the programme administrators. We hope that PathXL will become the standard web-based system for running all QA programmes”