Dr. Jared Block, a hematopathologist who practices at the University of North Carolina-affiliated Levine Cancer Institute is also a volunteer at the American Society of Hematology’s Global Health program, an initiative aimed at improving cancer diagnoses and outcomes in developing countries. Dr. Block now provides pro-bono online telepathology consultations with hematologists and pathologists at the Muhimbill National Hospital in Dar Es Salaam, Tanzania.
In a collaboration that involves both philanthropy and cutting-edge R&D, Augmentiqs has donated one of their telepathology systems to the Muhimbill National Hospital in Tanzania. While Dr. Block is working in his office in North Carolina, he can speak with the Tanzanian pathologists, view a live image of the tissue as seen in the microscope, and make annotations on his computer screen that will be viewed immediately by the pathologists in Tanzania as augmented reality within their microscope eyepiece.
Yet in addition to donating the system for telepathology consultations, Dr. Block and Augmentiqs are partnering on using a method patented by Augmentiqs for training Artificial Intelligence algorithms which they believe can dramatically improve the quality of pathology diagnosis in Tanzania and other developing countries. Dr. Block, who has experience annotating pathology images for AI training, will use the telepathology sessions with Tanzania as training sets for the AI, and then Augmentiqs will redeploy these algorithms within their system for use by the Tanzanian pathologists.
“The unique ability to display augmented reality in the microscope eyepiece could improve and expedite tissue analysis by allowing both myself and the AI algorithms to point out regions of interest to the Tanzanian pathologists,” said Dr. Block. “Our goal is to show how a cost-effective technology that fits the existing microscope will allow more effective telepathology communications, and enable the use of AI algorithms which can be utilized to greatly improve diagnostics, treatment plans and health outcomes,” said Dr. Block. Dr. Block has been involved in the development of pathology AI applications for several organizations, and explained that the challenge in utilizing AI within pathology is not the creation of the algorithm, but rather the platform upon which the algorithm will be deployed. “Unlike high-cost scanning solutions that are unobtainable in many developing countries,” he said, “the Augmentiqs system offers a cost-efficient solution that allows the use of AI and other digital pathology applications. The key is to allow an already purchased microscope to function as the core of the system. The microscope is a piece of equipment that most healthcare facilities in other countries already have. The Augmentiqs system can then be attached to display the augmented reality within the eyepiece.”
“The Augmentiqs solution is ideal for telepathology for Africa and other developing countries. It is low-cost, easy to integrate, enables multi-directional annotations between the groups of pathologists, and provides a full-resolution image in real time directly from their microscope.”
The Augmentiqs system is to be deployed initially at Dr. Block’s office where he will train several AI algorithms based on tissue images taken from his microscope. In July 2020, Dr. Block will deliver the Augmentiqs system to Tanzania with a microscope and PC laptop that are being purchased using money acquired through his GoFundMe fundraising drive (gf.me/u/vv2bwu). The collaboration linking Dr. Block with a lab in Tanzania, according to Gabe Siegel, CEO of Augmentiqs, is the first such project, with more to come. “Remote telepathology is a challenge for pathologists across the globe, yet particularly acute in Africa. We’re eager to partner in other initiatives to improve pathology diagnosis and health outcomes in developing countries,” said Siegel.
Augmentiqs develops digital pathology technologies that are deployed from the existing microscope. The Company’s solution for telepathology is the world’s first platform that enables multi-directional telepathology in real-time from the existing microscope.
The Augmentiqs system includes image capture of the region of interest, augmented reality of the microscope eyepiece and a unique IP protocol for sharing high resolution pathology images with annotations.
For more information on Augmentiqs telepathology, click here.
Although Health Volunteers Overseas and the American Society of Hematology facilitated Dr. Block’s volunteer activities, they are not directly involved in the current fundraising campaign. These organizations can be seen at hvousa.org and hematology.org.
Dr. Block’s GoFundMe page can be viewed at this address: gf.me/u/vv2bwu