How the University of Zagreb School of Medicine (UZSM) moved from conventional microscope histology teaching to online digital teaching with Pathomation

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The University of Zagreb School of Medicine (UZSM) transitioned part of their medical education from analog to digital during the COVID-19 pandemic. It was able to so by rolling out Pathomation’s software platform for digital pathology. Both PMA.core and PMA.slidebox are now integrated into its microscopy education curriculum.

The University of Zagreb School of Medicine (UZSM) adopted Pathomation’s digital pathology for its transformation of microscopy education in 2021, under the impetus of the global COVID-19 pandemic. UZSM opted to incorporate both PMA.core and PMA.slidebox into its microscopy education curriculum, as it made it convenient for students to have both access to (virtual) slide-material during off-hours, as well as for lecturers to offer hands-on teaching materials to students while quarantine and social distancing measures were enforced. UZSM made this transition in the context of limited resources and high time pressure, fully conscious of the perceived disadvantages of digital pathology like implementation complexity, insufficient IT infrastructure and slow image loading experience for users.

“We had been using Pathomation for the European School of Pathology (EScoP) lecture series since 2015, this gave us the confidence that the Pathomation solution could also be used for student distance learning in UZSM.”, recalls Sven Seiwerth, department head and professor of pathology. “It took a global pandemic to move ahead with a broader application into regular teaching”, he laughs, “but we’re very satisfied we’ve made the move; instructors can prepare their lectures in a central secure location, and students tell me the software is really easy to use; all they need is a web browser”.

When asked what his tips for other institutes were that want to start with digital pathology, professor Seiwerh answered “I was most worried about the reaction of my IT department, they were already overloaded due to the pandemic remote work requirements and I thought that integrating digital pathology would be very complex. But the Pathomation software is designed to be integrated in learning environments and the Pathomation team provided great support answering all the questions of our IT department. It only took us two months from start to finish to complete the implementation, the longest part being the scanning of our student’s histopathology collection.”
“The experience of UZSM proves that adopting digital pathology for teaching is within the reach of all and that it can improve students access to teaching.” says Rudy Hovelinck, Pathomation’s Chief Operating Officer Office (COO). “This is a further demonstration that PMA.core and PMA.slidebox are robust and easy to implement products that support a swift transition to digital education. We also continue to expand our offer for academic teaching to meet growing global demands like the recent new release of our My Pathomation online platform.”

About Pathomation: Pathomation was founded in Belgium in 2012. Its free software, PMA.start, has global adaptation and is used at 450+ sites each month. Its online My Pathomation cloud platform hosts a community of 750 users and offers free 10 GB accounts. PMA.core is a clinical diagnostic use CE-IVD certified tile server targeted at any organization that interacts with digital pathology and virtual microscopy data. Pathomation software supports over 35 different proprietary file formats. Visit the company’s website at https://www.pathomation.com/

About UZSM: The School of Medicine in Zagreb is a Croatian medical school affiliated with the University of Zagreb. It is the oldest and biggest of the four medical schools in Croatia, having been established in 1917 and with around 1800 students enrolled in the Croatian MD program, 300 in Medical Studies in English, 60 in the Nurses Master program and more than 1000 in different postgraduate programs. Visit the school’s website at https://www.mef.hr

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Rudy Hovelinck