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Making Digital Pathology Easier for Pathologists

By Proscia | March 7, 2017

Ease of use is one of the guiding principles behind the design of Proscia’s digital pathology platform. However, developing for ease of use requires an ongoing dialog with researchers, the scientists and pathologists who rely on our products. The results of this process can be seen in the recent rollout of a new folder and case management interface, an important shift in approach that aligns our platform with the clinical-style workflows of standard pathology practices and facilitates integration with existing digital pathology technologies.

As full stack developers, my team and I have to assume many different mindsets in the development of a project. Oftentimes, when we’re working in the weeds and inner mechanisms of our codebase, we spend our energy on determining the most efficient algorithm to accomplish a task or on how to write code that will be easy to understand if someone else is returning to the problem later. However, for our newest release, we focused on how to make our product as simple and easy to use as possible. Here are some of the ways that we accomplished this:

The Organization Framework 

We first looked at how we could best improve the structural aspects of Proscia’s revolutionary cloud platform for pathologists. After talking to pathologists to better inform ourselves on what they needed most out of our service, our team decided to develop an improved framework for organizations to collect and distribute slides and other data, as well as revamp the navigation system to categorize and collect slides within a repository.

When developing the new structure for organizations in Proscia’s cloud platform, our first concern was making sure that companies had full administrative control over content in their system. Users within an organization can share content through their organizational structure, handle administrative tasks, and view the activity of their organization, all through an intuitive, easy-to-use interface. This new structure is a clear and simple addition, but one that acts as a keystone to support the fantastic and diverse features of our platform in a way that makes it easy for pathologists to integrate them into their daily workflow.

New Navigation Bar 

Since last year, we had also been considering an overhaul for the slide navigation bar within our repositories. Although it was fully functional, our team wanted it to better reflect the organizational needs that pathologists have for their daily tasks.

The foremost feature we developed for this goal was a folder system. When organizing collections of data (like slides in a repository), it’s important to be able to categorize and quickly locate any individual item. In essence, the navigation bar should behave similarly to a file structure. At first, our team thought about constructing a one-level folder structure, where the top level has folders and each folder contains files. However, that didn’t seem to be enough. We wanted the user to have full control over their slide organization to tailor it to their own liking, so we developed a full file structure system, where folders can be put into folders as far down as the user likes, all while maintaining an ordering that is set by the user through an easy-to-use drag and drop interface.

Case Assignment

Lastly, with our team’s implementation of cases, we needed a simple way for organizations to pass their cases around for analysis and inspection by other pathologists. After a user assigns a case that they own to another user, the second user can access that case in their newly implemented inbox page. This page is a simple repository-like web page that allows the user to view every case that they have assigned to them and allowing them to mark each case as completed after finishing their work. Once a case is completed, it is removed from the user’s inbox and a notification is sent to the owner of the case repository. With this intuitive structure, organizations can divide up work quickly and precisely and then know as soon as the work is finished.

Thinking from a usability perspective is fun. It allows us web developers the opportunity to implement features that we have personally found lacking in other web applications that we’ve used in the past, while still improving and expanding on existing ideas.

Most importantly, these sorts of opportunities give our development team the chance to sit down with the people that use our product — the pathologists and doctors — and learn how we can help shave away time spent wasted fiddling with rigid organizational structures and administrative detail. With our new product release, Proscia is streamlining the daily logistical tasks of a pathologist and providing a solution that fits into the pathology workflow seamlessly.

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