One of the coolest things I get to observe is the use of the robotic microscope in the National Lab. When a skin biopsy is done (by Doug or Didi, PMH's full time dermatologist), we take it to the national lab (across the street) and Doug gives it a preliminary read (i.e. what he thinks is going on based on the microscopic appearance of the skin and the clinical data that we write down). If it's clear cut, he writes down his read and that's that. For the other cases, we load it onto the wells of the Zeiss Mirax Live RT microscope and the computer scans it. The images are sent via the internet to Carrie Kovarik in Philadelphia (who is the head of the study I am working on). She can even control the microscope remotely! She emails her reads to Doug and we write them down in the records. Simple as that.
This robotic telepathology technology is truly amazing and, at least to me, seems like the future of medicine. Especially in a developing country, it fosters a level of collaboration that would be impossible without the aid of tools like this.
If anyone is interested, there is a more in-depth article about this program (authored in part by Dr. Kovarik) in the latest issue of JAAD (the Journal of American Academy of Dermatology): May 2011 Volume 64, Number 5.