I believe that there is inadequate strategic planning taking place in pathology and by pathologists. It's true that many of the individual pathology societies support some strategic planning activities but there are few published reports articles addressing the challenges facing our specialty. Here's what I consider the four of the most important challenges facing the field consideration from a strategic perspective: (1) cancer oncology; (2) digital pathology; (3) the future of the LIS; (4) increased lab complexity with reduced lab budgets.
By way of contrast, radiologists has been addressing strategic planning in their field head-on for many years. For example, the International Society of Strategic Studies in Radiology (ISSSR) held its ninth biennial meeting in August 2011. Here is the citation for the published proceedings of that meeting: Eur Radiol (2012) 22:2283-2294. This article is a revealing compendium about what the future holds for radiology. A number of topics are addressed in the proceedings including molecular imaging, diagnostic algorithms, information technology in radiology, integrated diagnostics, and health information exchanges. Here's a passage from the article describing population imaging:
Population imaging employs computational radiology techniques such as unstructured and structured data mining, image segmentation, and statistical modeling to map and summarise imaging features from large image databases and thus extract meaningful imaging biomarkers. The biomarkers may be anatomic structures, disease manifestations, tumour characteristics, or haemodynamic abnormalities. The summation of one or more imaging features, or biomarkers, from a global data set can be considered a phenotypic “population image” representing a particular disease or health state. In clinical care or clinical trials, population images may be used as a reference to classify individuals or patient groups into diagnostic categories. Radiologists can play a key leadership role in providing the needed intuition to productively integrate the computational information from population images with personal medical information....These imaging biomarkers may facilitate prediction of future disease onset, the development and implementation of preventive measures, and even the development of pre-clinical diagnostics....Furthermore, because of the statistical power provided by large sample sizes, population studies using global databases could potentially replace individual prospective studies as a means of validating new biomarkers, saving both time and money.
Here's a more succinct definition of population imaging (Population Imaging):
The ultimate aim of the European Population Imaging Infrastructure is to help the development and implementation of strategies to prevent or effectively treat disease. It supports imaging in large, prospective epidemiological studies on the population level. Image specific markers of pre-symptomatic diseases can be used to investigate causes of pathological alterations and for the early identification of people at risk.
I certainly applaud the strategic planning efforts of our colleagues in radiology and this focus on population imaging effort has tremendous merit. However, the apparent absence of clinical and anatomic pathology data in this project is a significant problem.