Impact of template-based synoptic reporting on completeness of surgical pathology reports

Virchows Arch. 2023 Apr 5. doi: 10.1007/s00428-023-03533-6. Online ahead of print.


Synoptic reporting increases completeness and standardization of surgical pathology reports and thereby contributes to an increased quality of clinical cancer care. Nevertheless, its widespread practical implementation remains a challenge, which is in part related to the effort required for setup and maintenance of database structures. This prompted us to assess the effect of a simple template-based, database-free system for synoptic reporting on completeness of surgical pathology reports. For this purpose, we analyzed 200 synoptic reports (100 colon and 100 lung cancer resections each) for completeness as required by the pertinent College of American Pathologists (CAP) protocols and compared these to a control dataset of 200 narrative reports. Introduction of template-based synoptic reporting resulted in improved completeness (98% of mandatory data elements) as compared to narrative reports (77%). Narrative reports showed a high degree of completeness for data elements covered by previously existing dictation templates. In conclusion, template-based synoptic reporting without underlying database structure can be a useful transitory phase in the implementation of synoptic reporting. It can result in a similar degree of completeness as reported in the literature for database solutions and provides other benefits of synoptic reporting while facilitating its implementation.

Keywords: Colon cancer; Lung cancer; Structured reporting; Synoptic reporting.