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Introducing Customized Sensitivity for Automated Quality Control

Casey Wahl
By Casey Wahl | July 11, 2023

Casey Wahl is a Senior Product Manager, Core Platform and AI at Proscia

In the fast-evolving field of digital pathology, advancements in technology have transformed the way laboratory professionals analyze and interpret tissue samples. Automated quality control software solutions, such as artifact detection algorithms, play a crucial role in ensuring quality research by flagging artifacts that affect slide image quality. Laboratories can now benefit from advancements in automated quality control sensitivity settings that allow configurability for the laboratory’s unique workflow needs.

Artifact detection sensitivity refers to the ability of automated quality control software to identify and flag various anomalies or artifacts present in digital slide images. These artifacts include issues such as out of focus regions, tissue folds, air bubbles or other quality issues that may impact the accuracy of research. The flexibility to customize artifact detection sensitivity empowers laboratories to optimize their workflow.

Legacy automated quality control solutions have offered a single sensitivity setting for artifact detection, resulting in solutions that may detect artifacts too often or not often enough for a specific laboratory. Automated quality control results may disrupt the workflow when artifacts are detected too often, requiring technicians, scientists, or pathologists to spend additional time to review information that is not valuable to their laboratory. Alternatively, if automated quality control solutions do not detect artifacts often enough, the laboratory must continue manual review processes for 100% of slide images due to a lack of confidence in the automated quality control results. Different laboratories may find an artifact detection result to be valuable or disruptive depending on their unique workflow needs, preventing the possibility of a singular objective truth for accurate artifact detection. 

That’s why we’re introducing the newest version of Automated Quality Control (QC) with Sensitivity Settings. The ability to customize artifact detection sensitivity is a critical component of automated quality control solutions. This customizability allows the laboratory to select from a suite of sensitivity settings to best meet their quality control needs, ultimately improving efficiency and performance throughout the digital pathology workflow.

Tailored Detection Settings for Specific Artifacts

One of the primary advantages of customizing artifact detection sensitivity is the ability to enable or disable the detection of specific artifacts. Not all artifacts have the same impact on the research process, and different laboratories may prioritize different types of artifacts based on their specific needs, workflow, and preferences. For instance, if a laboratory consistently experiences out of focus artifacts, they can choose to enable the detection of out of focus while disabling detection for others. This customization saves time and reduces unnecessary flagging of non-critical artifacts.

Different Needs, Different Settings

Customization also allows laboratories to set sensitivity thresholds based on the extent of the artifact and according to their unique needs and use cases. For example, a laboratory may choose to flag only the most egregious artifacts if extensive manual quality control is not an option or if the available options to swiftly correct issues are limited. In this scenario, flagging too many artifacts is a nuisance. Labs can choose a sensitivity setting that ensures that only significant abnormalities are flagged, reducing the number of false positives and enabling focus on areas that require closer attention.

However, some labs already have in place extensive manual quality control processes and require detection of even small artifacts. In this case, labs can use Automated QC at a high sensitivity setting, ensuring that no artifact is overlooked. This setting gives confidence that images not flagged by Automated QC can reliably skip the manual QC process.

There are a myriad of other processes and uses in between these two scenarios, and Automated QC can be customized too for labs whose needs lie in the middle.

By striking the right balance between sensitivity and specificity for a given use, pathologists and lab personnel can ensure they’re capturing the most relevant artifacts, while still not spending an inordinate amount of time “sweating the small stuff”.

More Data, Better Performance

In addition to customized Sensitivity Settings, our newest version of Automated QC offers several other new benefits.

Tissue Area Measurement: The enhanced Automated QC version now includes the measurement of total tissue area, providing pathologists with invaluable insights into the composition of digital slides. This feature enhances the understanding of tissue distribution and aids in study data selection and analysis.

Percentage of Tissue Affected: Automated QC’s updated version now calculates the percentage of total tissue area covered by any artifact present on the slide. This measurement of affected tissue enables pathologists to analyze affected slides more quickly, leading to improved efficiency.

Improved Performance: While it’s one thing to detect out of focus that can be seen across the room, it’s another to detect those finer examples. This version can see what a technician might sometimes miss. In a test set of over 100,000 quality control tasks on over 10,000 slide images, Automated QC achieved an average artifact detection accuracy of 96%. Automated QC agreed with a human rater on a pass/fail decision more often than human experts agree on the same decision, demonstrating consistent state of the art performance.

More Issues Detected: It’s important to detect artifacts that often affect data quality. Automated QC now detects more quality issues than ever. The latest version brings the number of issues and artifacts covered to 10, adding Printed Slide Mark and No Macro to the list, so labs can feel confident their quality issues are supported.

The Benefits of Proscia’s Automated QC

  • Increased Efficiency: Eliminates the need to manually review and flag each artifact due to customized artifact detection sensitivity, saving valuable time.
  • Improved Research Accuracy: By tailoring the sensitivity settings, laboratories can prioritize the detection of significant artifacts, reducing the chances of false positives and enhancing research quality.
  • Workflow Optimization: Customizing artifact detection sensitivity streamlines the digital pathology workflow, eliminating unnecessary distractions and ensuring a smoother research process.
  • Flexibility for Different Laboratory Requirements: Each laboratory has unique needs and priorities. Customizable artifact detection sensitivity allows laboratories to align the software’s capabilities with their specific requirements, ensuring an optimized workflow.
  • High Performance: Accurate detection of quality issues ensures only quality and trustworthy data is driving research.

The ability to select sensitivity settings allows laboratories to improve research quality by streamlining the quality control workflow with artifact detection that meets their unique needs. 

Learn More

See how Automated QC can improve quality in your lab. Read our new Solution Brief to find out how it works, how it was validated and who benefits.



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