Hi-tech employees who volunteer in Code for Israel have founded a project designated to advance cancer patients' care by improving diagnostic quality and speed. Called "Pathomatic," this project aims to develop a QC system that will identify problems with tissue scans and alert the lab team in real time. This will allow rapid correction of quality problems, leading to earlier diagnosis.
The project's team includes seven volunteers from multiple companies and various fields such as R&D, business, product, and more. This project is done in collaboration with Prof. Dov Hershkovitz, Director of the Institute of Pathology at Tel Aviv Medical Center.
Examination of tissue from biopsies and diagnosis of cancer is mainly based on microscopic examination of the tissue slides. In recent years, there has been a transition from physical microscopes to scanning platforms that generate digital image that can be used for diagnosis on the computer screen. Today, 5-10% of tissue scans, used for microscopic diagnosis of cancer, are impossible to interpret due to suboptimal quality. This creates a major load on hospitals, impairs work efficiency in the pathology departments, and leaves patients waiting for diagnosis and unable to proceed with treatment.
In the Tel Aviv Medical Centre, approximately 1,000 slides are scanned each day, out of which dozens fail the quality threshold. The algorithm created by the volunteers can detect these failed cases with high success rates.
This project is part of the Code for Israel Initiative, in which hundreds of hi-tech employees volunteer and take part in 20 tech-oriented projects for Israeli society. It was founded by entrepreneur and VC investor Jasmin Luchatz, in order to harness the advanced and skilled human equity that is currently in hi-tech to solve social challenges and do better. Over 30 companies, foundations, and government facilities take part in Jasmin's initiative.
Yuval Nokrian, who is leading the Pathomatic Project, said: "In a short amount of time, a small group of product and R&D personals took this problem with both hands and managed to find a simple solution - an algorithm that makes the pathologic process more efficient and by doing so helps cancer patients receive adequate treatment. In addition, our solution serves as an infrastructure for adding in the future algorithms in the fields of AI. On a personal note, there is an enormous satisfaction in being a part of this project and this initiative which allows me to combine both technology and helping out."
Prof. Hershkovitz added: "Quality assurance of the pathology lab process is an unmet need. During the work with the team at Code for Israel, we managed, in a short period of time, to create a mechanism that resolves the problem. This solution is integrated into the hospital's systems and will allow the lab workers to resolve quality issues in real time. I have no doubt that this system will be operative in no time and both patients and hospitals will benefit from it."
Yasmin Lukatz, founder of Code for Israel, spoke about the vision behind it: "We founded Code for Israel in order to bring both the skills and abilities of Israel’s finest hi-tech employees and the social organizations in Israel together, to confront challenges. It is amazing to see how in a year's time - 20 projects are up and running thanks to hundreds of volunteers that harness the most advanced tech abilities into the social field. The scans project is a great example of how merging a medical facility with a small group of skillful volunteers can bring hope to cancer patients."