Pathology is a special area of medicine which requires specialized tools. Sometimes these tools don’t even exist, and labs across the United States find new and unique ways to solve the problems they’re faced with when such a situation occurs. This is especially true for Pathology labs located in general hospital facilities, where ‘standard’ hospital software systems are all that is provided.
What you might not know is that your facility’s dictation system is likely designed with you in mind. Pathology accounts for a significant amount of the total dictation in most facilities which offer it, and dictation system vendors keep that in mind when they develop their products. Just do a little research and take the time to contact colleagues at other facilities, and you’ll see that often the system is quite capable of streamlining both the gross and microscopic portions of anatomic pathology, as well as other specialties – such as cytology and hematopathology.
In the gross lab, hands-free dictation is offered by most vendors. This is normally set up using a large dictation foot pedal to actuate the microphone. Generally there are three buttons – one to record, one to rewind / review dictation and the last to send the dictation to the server, which automatically starts a new dictation. The microphone itself is usually an omni-directional goose-neck or boom microphone, which can be positioned in such a way that it picks up your voice despite the sound of the hood and / or a splash shield.
In the pathologist’s office you can use a similar setup so the doctor can dictate without removing this or her eyes from the microscope, or if they prefer, a handheld microphone for increased clarity, and comfort as they shift from computer to microscope and slide to slide.
Grossers are typically creatures of habit, and most of their task involves taking measurements. By taking the time to agree on a standard template which orders the measurements, the transcriptionist can often increase the speed of the dictation playback (sometimes 150%) while entering in this information. Pathology transcriptionists also have other unique perks. In most anatomic pathology cases, the gross and the microscopic examination are combined into one document. This saves them time when working with their typing package, since the document is already setup before the pathologist’s dictation is even completed.
No matter where you are in the Pathology dictation workflow you are, your vendor likely has specialized tools and techniques to help you get your job done. Just take the time to ask, and spend the time to collaborate with other users and you’ll find there is always a way to improve some aspect of your workdlow.