Code for Israel is an initiative in which hundreds of high-tech employees volunteer and participate in 20 tech-oriented projects for Israeli society. It was founded by Yasmin Lukatz, an entrepreneur and VC investor, to harness the advanced and skilled human equity that is currently in Israel’s High-tech scene to solve social challenges and better the world.

A recent project within the initiative, dubbed Pathomatic, was created by 7 participants, in collaboration with Prof. Dov Hershkovitz, Director of the Institute of Pathology at Tel Aviv Medical Center. It is designated to advance cancer patients' care by improving diagnostic quality and speed. How so? The project aims to develop a QC system that will identify problems with tissue scans and alert a lab team in real-time, which will allow for rapid correction of quality problems leading to earlier diagnosis.

From right to left: Yuval Mokrian (Project Manager), Irit Neeman (Former Software Team Lead), Prof. Dov Hershkovitz (Director of the Institute of Pathology). Credit: Code for Israel

The team at Pathomatic is addressing the need for better interpretation of tissue scans. Tissue scans are used in diagnosing all types of biopsies, including those of cancerous tumours. But 5-10% of tissue scans are impossible to interpret due to suboptimal quality. This creates a major load on hospitals, impairs work efficiency in the pathology departments and leaves patients waiting for diagnosis and unable to proceed with treatment. For example, at Tel Aviv Medical Centre, approximately 1000 slides are scanned each day, out of which dozens fail the quality threshold. As Prof. Hershkovitz stated, “Quality assurance of the pathology lab process is an unmet need”, and he and the team of Pathomatic wanted to change that.

The team managed to create an algorithm that makes the pathologic process more efficient and also detects failed cases with high success rates. For example, when you look at cancer diagnostics, time is of the essence since delayed treatment is associated with reduced survival. Reducing the turnaround time from a biopsy to diagnosis in patients with suspected cancer allows for adequate treatment and thereby increases survival rates, all the while reducing patient stress.

Pathomatic's Interface. Credit: Code for Israel

Pathomatic’s solution will be integrated into the hospital's systems and will allow the lab workers to resolve quality issues in real-time, and therefore help both the patients and the hospital. As Yasmin Lukatz, founder of Code for Israel, concluded, “This project is just one example of how volunteers that harness the most advanced tech abilities can help society… By merging a medical facility with a small group of skillful volunteers we can bring hope to cancer patients.”

Pathomatic’s Team. Credit: Credit Ron Bitan

The Pathomatic team includes Prof. Dov Hershkovitz, Director of the Institute of Pathology at Tel Aviv University; Yuval Nokrian, Project Manager; Gilad Shahar, Product Manager; Shlomo Tsuriel, Head of Research at the Pathology Lab; Yogev Raved, Product Designer (UX/UI); Shai Mahnai, Front End Developer; Amiad Zaretsky, Back End Developer; Ayelet Itzhaki, Head of the Pathology Lab; Nimrod Carmel, Software Team Lead, Irit Neeman, Former Software Team Lead; Gal Kaufman, Back End Developer.