7 Key Aspects of Pathology Informatics in Veterinary Medicine

In 2020, the American College of Veterinary Pathologists established a new educational committee called the Pathology Informatics Committee (PIC). According to PIC, pathology informatics encompasses the study and management of pathology information, information systems, and workflows. In veterinary medicine, it pertains to the application of information technology and data management techniques to enhance veterinary pathology and laboratory medicine practices. You've been benefiting from the application of pathology information through your use of digital tools, software systems, and data analysis methods in your daily operations to improve diagnostic results and patient care.

Technology and data management have revolutionized the veterinary field, significantly improving the quality of care for animals. Pathology informatics plays a pivotal role in veterinary medicine—here are seven key aspects that enhance diagnostics and animal care.

Application of Pathology Informatics in Veterinary Medicine

The advancement of veterinary technology has reshaped the modern veterinary practice. Picture yourself walking into your practice on a Monday morning: You're the first to power up the hematology analyzer, run control samples, and check cytology reports in the computer system. You discover that Missy's mass turns out to be just a histiocytoma, then you prepare to share this good news with Missy's owner through the client portal. All of these steps exemplify various facets of pathology informatics in veterinary medicine.

1. Laboratory Information Systems (LIS)

The forefront of pathology informatics is the laboratory information systems (LIS). It refers to software specifically designed for diagnostic labs. A robust LIS in veterinary medicine should facilitate a seamless flow, consolidating diagnostic results from all point-of-care instruments into one place for your team's comprehensive review.

2. Digital Pathology and Telepathology

Advances in digital imaging enable instruments to capture and analyze high-resolution images of animal tissue samples and cells, including urine sediment. This technology significantly enhances telepathology's accessibility. Captured images can be dispatched to veterinary pathologists for review, streamlining the process of interpreting digital slides, fostering remote and global collaboration, and archiving images for future reference.

3. Data Analytics

Prominent diagnostic companies receive hundreds of thousands of samples from thousands of practices nationwide. Pathology informatics empowers the analysis of big data, yielding insights into disease patterns, treatment effectiveness, and the health of animals at all stages of adulthood.

4. Quality Assurance

Pathology informatics aids in standardizing lab processes, simplifying quality control, minimizing errors, and ensuring the accuracy and reliability of veterinary diagnostic tests and interpretations.

5. Patient Records and Communication

Pathology informatics extends beyond pathology or diagnostic results. Veterinary practice informatics systems house and manage all digital records, including animal signalment, medical histories, test results, and treatment plans. Going digital enhances recordkeeping and promotes smoother communication between your team and pet owners.

6. Disease Surveillance

Veterinary informatics can be a valuable community asset. Over the years, the Companion Animal Parasite Council has contributed to disease surveillance efforts by aggregating and analyzing data nationwide and constructing prevalence maps for various infectious diseases. With the evolution of pathology informatics, we can now go a step further and create a pet disease alert system to monitor and control the spread of diseases among animal populations.

7. Personalized Veterinary Medicine

Personalized medicine employs an individual's genetic profile to guide disease prevention, diagnosis, and treatment decisions. Recent bioinformatics advancements extend this emerging practice to animals. We're on the verge of tailoring treatment plans based on individual animals' genetic profiles and understanding their genetic predispositions to diseases.

Pathology informatics in veterinary medicine leverages technology and data management to enhance veterinary pathology and laboratory medicine practices, thus improving diagnostics, research, and the overall quality of care we provide to animals.

Candice Chu
DVM, PhD, DACVP

Dr. Candice Chu, an ACVP board-certified veterinary clinical pathologist, holds a DVM from National Taiwan University, and a PhD in veterinary pathobiology, along with completing residency training at Texas A&M University. Her research pursuits encompass kidney disease biomarkers, digital cytology, and veterinary education. Dr. Chu plays an active role in the ACVP Training Program Accreditation Committee, ACVP Pathology Informatics Committee, and ASVCP Education Committee. Her passion for teaching led her to establish the popular vet cytology Instagram page 'Vet Clin Path Resident.' The views and opinions in this piece are the authors own, and do not necessarily reflect the views of either The Vetiverse or IDEXX.


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