Takeouts from RCPA’s pathology conference 

Industry News March 11, 2024
Takeouts from RCPA’s pathology conference 
NATA team

By Gillian Treloar, Deputy Sector Manager, Legal & Clinical 

On the first weekend of March, the pathology community came together for Pathology Update 2024 – Answers in Adelaide. 

It was great to catch up with old friends and familiar faces. We welcomed many of the 1300+ strong delegates to our stand. It was pleasing to see a good turnout of registrars, the technical assessors of the future, who showed a keen interest in the process and requirements for accreditation. 

We also saw the launch of our latest NATA Education course: Risk Management for Medical Laboratories. You can learn more about the course here.

The RCPA Update covered many of the latest trends including precision medicine, and data analytics, and suffice to say, the topic of AI was never far from anyone’s lips.  

An interesting analogy for the impact of AI came during the NATA-supported David Rothfield Oration. Prof Liron Pantanowitz outlined how the technology is coming, how pervasive it will be and how it is time to jump on board. There is little question AI and machine-based learning will help augment pathology workflow and assist with workplace shortages.  

Interestingly, Prof Pantanowitz compared the arrival of the AI technology to when we first encountered elevators. People did not trust them, and so to build trust, elevator operators (experts) were required to operate the lifts. As the technology improved, the operators had to do less until they were no longer needed. In simple terms, AI is developing quickly, and we will all need to prepare for its impact.  

Ensuring that you have good, clean data has also never been more important. As technology improves, natural language patterns will rely on synthetic data, and this will become more and more commonplace. Frankenstein data as Dr Shannon Haymond put it.  

The importance of data analytics is also key in driving better decision making and improved outcomes. If we’re going to rely on machine learning to make increasing insights between data sets, we need to ensure that primary data is reliable.  

Elsewhere, Associate Prof Beverley Rowbotham AO, Chair of NPAAC gave a fantastic talk about the role of peer-assessment, going on to describe pathologist assessors as “the jewels in the crown.” 

Finally, we couldn’t provide an accurate account of the event without paying tribute to Dr Debra Graves. It was a lovely and fitting end to the conference with a send-off for the longest-serving CEO of the college.  

Debra is retiring after 25 years as CEO of the RCPA, and we have worked closely with her over that time, facing many challenges together. We wish her all the best for the future. Enjoy the cruising!