College of American Pathologists
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October 2006

Raymond D. Aller, MD
Hal Weiner

Pathologist tosses transcription to traffic in software
Glucose monitoring part of the gig for new cell phone
Health Language launches SNOMED CT module
Luminex, Smiths Detection get homeland security contract from government
Public laboratory LOINC workshop and meeting
CAP member to speak at Mediware meeting

bulletPathologist tosses transcription to traffice in software

When pathologist Carl Szczesniak, MD, finished his residency a few years ago and entered private practice, he became frustrated with the time-consuming process of reviewing transcribed reports, many of which were riddled with errors or missing information. Dr. Szczesniak thought there had to be a better way, so he came up with one.

Dr. Szczesniak and a partner created Pathology Voice Tools, voice-recognition software specifically for pathologists. The software works on the Dragon NaturallySpeaking voice-recognition software system from Nuance Communications.

Pathology Voice Tools consists of macros that allow users to plug in key words or phrases to access a template that corresponds with the type of information necessary for the report, including diagnoses and microscopic descriptions. "I’ve created several hundred commands for pathology that are templates," says Dr. Szczesniak. "If I get a kidney cancer case, I can say, ’template kidney cancer,’ and what I’m supposed to say in my report appears on the screen."

The tool is a time- and money-saver because it eliminates the need to transcribe and review transcripts and improves turnaround time, Dr. Szczesniak adds. "Once I’m done evaluating the slide, the time it takes me to put my information into the report and sign it out is a matter of 30 seconds, maybe less. I don’t have to dictate it and come back to the case three or four hours after it has been transcribed. I don’t have to check it for errors," he says.

After learning about Dragon NaturallySpeaking in 2005, Dr. Szczesniak contacted Nuance to obtain a list of licensed resellers of the product whom he could contact for input on developing software. One of the resellers put him in touch with another reseller, software consultant Larry Allen, who would become Dr. Szczesniak’s partner.

Together Dr. Szczesniak and Allen developed Pathology Voice Tools, with Dr. Szczesniak overseeing the pathology content while Allen handled the technical aspects of the project. The partners also created an intranet Web site of all the ICD-9 codes that is packaged with many of the diagnoses. "If I say, ’mic skin inclusion cyst,’ for example, the correct ICD-9 code populates the screen," he says. "The real value is consistency. You want to say your diagnosis the same way every your clinician knows exactly where to find the information he or she needs."

The voice-recognition tool is very systematic in its organization, Dr. Szczesniak adds. The commands are set up so they’re easy to remember. For example, he says, "All of my microscopic commands start with ’mic.’. . . The next word is the organ system, such as skin, or breast, or stomach. The next word is usually the diagnosis. So ’mic skin seb’ would be a microscopic description for a seborrheic keratosis of the skin. However, if the user can’t remember the command, an alphabetized list is accessible."

Pathology Voice Tools is available online at The software can be used with Dragon NaturallySpeaking 8 or 9.

Dr. Szczesniak and Allen recently began marketing the software to Dragon NaturallySpeaking resellers. "We’re slowly spreading the word," Dr. Szczesniak says.

bullet Glucose monitoring part of the gig for new cell phone

Saying "hi" on HealthPia America’s new cell phone may mean "high" since the phone has a built-in glucose monitor.

HealthPia America recently received FDA 510(k) clearance to market its diabetes phone, manufactured by Seoul, Korea-based LG Electronics.

Users of the device place a drop of blood on a test strip and insert it into the glucose monitor built into the phone. The monitor displays the blood glucose levels. The device can automatically send results via text messaging to caregivers at a HealthPia data center. Messages can be sent back to the phone to provide real-time disease management. Users of the device can also access longitudinal patient data for long-term tracking. The phone can be used as a regular cell phone as well.

Diabetic Centers of America, Houston, has contracted to be the first U.S. user of the phone and was slated to begin offering the device to its patients this month.

bullet Health Language launches SNOMED CT module

Health Language has launched SNOMED CT clinical subset module.

Using the module, Health Language’s language engine can instantly cross-map SNOMED CT to ICD-9 and other HIPAA-mandated standards during data entry for more accurate billing and coding. The language engine’s ability to convert SNOMED CT into codes and concepts also promotes patient safety, decision support, and data analysis.

bullet Luminex, Smiths Detection get homeland security contract from government

Luminex Corp. has received a subcontract from Smiths Detection for research related to detecting acts of bioterrorism. The award comes from the Homeland Security Advanced Research Projects Agency as part of its Low-Cost Biological Agent Detection System, or LBADS, program.

Luminex will work as a subcontractor to Smiths Detection to develop a low-cost early warning trigger sensor to detect weaponized biological pathogens in the ambient air. Smiths Detection markets chemical, biological, and explosives detectors and x-ray security screening equipment.

"The LBADS trigger sensor is designed to serve as the front end to a comprehensive bio-detection system, in which the trigger provides early warning of a possible attack, followed by a confirmatory sensor subsequently determining actual species identification," says Patrick Balthrop, president and chief executive officer of Luminex.

bullet Public laboratory LOINC workshop and meeting

The Regenstrief Institute, National Library of Medicine, and Laboratory LOINC Committee will hold a public workshop and LOINC Committee meeting on Dec. 4 and 5 in Indianapolis.

The hands-on workshop focuses on the structure and distribution of the Logical Observation Identifier Names and Codes database and the use and utility of LOINC codes and the Regenstrief LOINC Mapping Assistant, or RELMA. LOINC is an extensive, standard coding system for identifying laboratory test results.

For more information about the meeting or to register, go to, or send an e-mail to, or send a fax to the attention of "LOINC meeting" at 317-630-6962, or phone 317-630-7070 or 317-630-8134.

bullet CAP member to speak at Mediware meeting

Mediware Information Systems has announced that James AuBuchon, MD, chair of the CAP Transfusion Medicine Resource Committee, will give the keynote address at the company’s blood bank user group meeting on Oct. 25.

Dr. AuBuchon’s address, titled "Transfusion Appropriateness...Says Who?," will discuss how technology and software systems can help blood bank staff and clinicians determine the appropriate use of blood in therapy. The meeting will include five educational tracks and offer continuing education credits.

bullet Contracts

Northeast Georgia Medical Center and Health System, Gainesville, has deployed Novo Innovations’ Agent Grid solution for integrating hospital information systems and electronic medical record systems.

Information Data Management has implemented its Surround 4.2 system at Memorial Blood Centers. Memorial Blood Centers will use the system to transmit data from testing instruments in its laboratory to its blood bank management system.

Memorial Blood Centers, a member of America’s Blood Centers, has 10 locations and serves areas of Minnesota and Wisconsin.

Dr. Aller is director of bioterrorism preparedness and response for Los Angeles County Public Health Acute Communicable Diseases. He can be reached at Hal Weiner is president of Weiner Consulting Services, LLC, Florence, Ore. He can be reached at