Archives of Pathology & Laboratory Medicine
Context: As many pathology institutions have eliminated transcription service by office assistants, pathologists assume the task of diagnostic data entry (DDE) into pathology reports in the laboratory information system. This is not a trivial undertaking, yet tangible data are lacking on how much DDE adds to the workload of pathologists. Without such data, it is very difficult to assess the financial benefit of such a task shift and establish benchmarks. Design: Four practicing pathologists covering a general surgical pathology service in 3 institutions with different laboratory information systems were selected for their dominant DDE method (speech recognition, pre-text, or manual typing) to generate greater than twothirds of their pathology reports. In each sign-out session, the starting and ending times of the session were recorded. An online stopwatch was used to collate the DDE time for each surgical case during the session. Time for other activities, such as case information retrieval, slide review, and filling out a synoptic report, was not counted. Results: Time for DDE, out of a total of 156 hours of consecutive sign-out sessions, was recorded. Judging by the ratio of ‘‘slides/ specimen part/case,’’ the specimen-type mix appears typical of the general pathology service of a tertiary health care center. The results summarized in the Table demonstrate that pathologists spent .24.8% of sign-out time for DDE (median, 28.5%; quartile, 25.7%–29.5%). Conclusions: With about 28.5% sign-out time devoted to DDE, the established workload of pathologists should be recalibrated. Since 1 full-time transcriptionist can cover DDE for 4–5 pathologists, the financial benefit of shifting DDE to pathologists should be reassessed.
Qu Z, Zhang L, Ding X, Jabbar K. How much time do general surgical pathologists spend on diagnostic data entry? Arch Pathol Lab Med Sept 2021; 145 (9): e96–e97. doi.org/10.5858/arpa.2021-0267-AB