Efficiency of Mobile Video Sharing Application (WhatsApp®) in Live Field Image Transmission for Telepathology

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Journal of Medical Systems


Telepathology is in its nascent stages in India. Video calling applications in mobile phones can be efficiently used to transmit static and live field microscopic images hastening low cost telepathology. To evaluate the efficiency of WhatsApp® Video Calling for dynamic microscopy in distant diagnosis. Thirty haematoxylin and eosin stained slides of common pathologies were retrieved from the archives of Department of Oral Pathology and Microbiology, coded with relevant history and given to three untrained investigators. The investigators then connected a mobile phone with VOIP facility to a microscope using a custom adaptor. Dynamic fields were transferred to three independent pathologists via WhatsApp® video call. The pathologists attempted to diagnose the lesion based on the live field video over their display screen (phone). Audio quality was found to be better than that of video. In 70% of the cases, pathologists could render a diagnosis (13% gave a confirmed diagnosis, 57.7% gave a probable diagnosis). The average time taken for connecting the adaptor, connecting the call to the pathologist and then receiving the diagnosis was 9:30 min. In addition, proper history taking and staining of the tissue slides were critical to arrive at the diagnosis. WhatsApp® free VOIP facility helped untrained investigators to send the live-field pathologic fields to a specialist rendering histopathological diagnosis. The factors affecting the diagnosis included network stability, clarity of images transmitted, staining quality and contrast of nuclear details of the stain. The history, clinico-pathologic correlation, transmission of static images, training of the person transmitting the images plays a vital role in rendering accurate diagnosis. Telepathology over WhatsApp® video calling could be used as an efficient screening tool to identify suspicious lesions and follow-up critical cases.



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