The world changed on us

I can’t believe how different my life is. I went from a professional work environment in a new cool office in Columbus, to working from home with my young kids thinking it was great to have their Dad around, constantly wanting my attention. Running a company this month was literally the polar opposite of the last. 

What also changed was our industry. I have lived and breathed a mission over the last decade which inadvertently made me the “enabler of collaboration” in my industry. When I headed up informatics at Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Columbus, we enabled the global collaboration of pathologists as they coordinated their research in a new thing called “digital pathology” by building VIPER, a cloud based collaboration platform for pathologists. It was one of the first and most recognized platforms of its type. Now I am the co-founder and CEO of a company that uses this heritage in pathology and diagnosis of disease to enable the collaboration of anyone and everyone who has something to do with cancer clinical trials. Yet again I find myself in the role of “The Enabler”, although this time to a much wider group of stakeholders.

What also changed recently was an announcement last week that shook our world. We all know that most people are not allowed to, or are choosing not to, physically come in to work. If you are a pathologist or a care team member it means that your ability to help patients is severely limited. None of us want the patient to suffer during this time, but it is just plain dangerous for care teams or patients to unnecessarily come into contact with SARS-COV2.  We realize that we (as an industry), and Deep Lens specifically, have technology that can assist in dealing with this issue. This technology brings to mind words like cloud, remote care, collaboration, telehealth, asynchronous, synchronous and HIPAA compliance. It’s here, it’s available globally, and with recent regulatory changes we just need to use it!

The problem we have faced leading up to this moment in time is called inertia. It’s hard to get an IRB waiver, it’s hard to get IT to sign off on tech to confirm that it is compliant, it’s hard to get a budget (if one is needed) for new tools. It’s just hard!  In our industry there has been no compelling event to drive the adoption of collaboration in healthcare for pathology diagnostic automation, cancer care coordination, and clinical trial enrollment. Until now. Last week changed everything.   

Last Thursday, in the midst of this COVID-19 pandemic, the College of American Pathologists (CAP) announced an unprecedented breakthrough. The Center for Medicare & Medicare Services (CMS) stated during this public health emergency that it will exercise enforcement discretion to ensure pathologists may perform pathology review remotely. We expect that tools, like those used for patient screening in clinical trials, will be in exactly the same bucket and will get approved for use without all the red tape usually required because it makes sense and it is the right thing to do.

So here’s my point: If you are a pathologist, if you participate in tumor boards (or molecular tumor boards), or if you are a head of research, a principal investigator, care team member,  or a trial coordinator I urge you to talk to management and get approval for the immediate use of these tools at your institution. Together we will drive better outcomes for patients and the industry in spite of this global pandemic. You and your patients will not only continue on in your care and healing in spite of the Coronavirus, you will benefit from a newly found freedom to operate at the current standards of so many other industries. 

What you may not know is that the Deep Lens’ VIPER platform is free to all providers (and always will be) for use by pathology groups for team collaboration (including Infectious Disease (ID) specialists) including tumor boards, and for cancer care teams to help screen patients automatically and remotely for oncology clinical trials.   

We can set up a VIPER account for your institution on the same day that you sign up for it.  It will allow you to provide diagnosis, collaborate with care team members remotely and enables real-time critical care for patients, so please send this to anyone who might be interested and realize that we are dedicating our resources in these hard times to professionals like you so that we can reduce the burden on patients and caregivers alike.   

Click on this link (Get VIPER) to fill in a form and start the process. We’d be happy to talk to you and help in any way we can. 

Stay safe and healthy!


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