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University Hospitals Plymouth NHS Trust Pathology 2018 poster discusses benefits of VR in cut-up

Madeleine Stephens, BMS and Dr Dean Harmse for Derriford Hospital recently presented a poster at  the 11th Joint Meeting of the British Division of the International Academy of Pathology and the Pathological Society of Great Britain & Ireland about the resulting benefits of the deploying TalkingPoint for Pathology in cut-up.

The First Successful Implementation of Voice Recognition Software for the Macroscopic Description of Histopathology Specimens in Cut Up – Reducing Costs, Improving Accuracy, Reducing Turnaround Times and Improving Patient Care

P ML Stephens and Dr D Harmse
University Hospitals Plymouth NHS Trust


The use of voice recognition (VR) software in the reporting of histopathology specimens is well established. The use of VR software traditionally requires a quiet environment as background noise can interfere with the accuracy of the recognition. We describe the successful implementation of the use of VR in the pathology cut-up room. This is the first time that this technology has successfully been implemented in the cutup environment in the UK.


The traditional way to record the macroscopic description of pathology specimens is via digital voice recording or a technical officer scribing. In both instances the macroscopic report had to be typed into the laboratory information management system (LIMS) by secretarial staff. We worked with a private sector partner to design a system which allows direct dictation of the macroscopic description of cases into the LIMS. The use of noise cancelling microphones mitigated the background noise of the cut-up room. The system was designed to allow a biomedical scientist (BMS) to work singlehandedly without the need of an assistant. Canned text options allows for quick and accurate description of simple cases. Free text is used to accurately describe more complex cases. Specimen data and workload figures are automatically generated by the software and entered into the LIMS is real time.


  • The electronic generation of workload figures drastically improved the management and planning of workforce requirement in the laboratory as it enabled accurate preplanning of the following day’s workload and optimal utilisation of staff.
  • The ability for a BMS to work single-handedly in cut-up freed-up the assistant form cutup with a saving of 7.75 man-hours a day.
  • Electronic entering of specimen data into the LIMS save another 1 man-hour per day as this was previously a manual task.
  • Secretarial time was saved as the macroscopic description no longer needs to be typed and the department was able to give up one secretarial post (via natural wastage). This saving, in terms of salary, was reinvested in technical laboratory staff.
  • The quicker turnover of specimens in the laboratory improved turnaround times of specimen reports.
  • Accuracy was improved as the description is immediately available to be reviewed by the dissector prior to saving- no secretarial typographical errors.


The use of VR technology in the histopathology cut-up environment is feasible and achievable. It improves accuracy and turnaround times and results in cost reductions which can be reinvested elsewhere in the laboratory. Ultimately this leads to improved morale of staff and improved clinical care for patients.

To download a copy of the poster pdf file, please click here.

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