On the agenda: Digital pathology

What is digital pathology? Digital pathology includes the acquisition, management, sharing and interpretation of pathology information — including slides and data — in a digital environment. Digital slides are created when glass slides are captured with a scanning device, to provide a high-resolution image that can be viewed on a computer screen or mobile device.

Digital pathology has the potential to improve patient care, and support the pathology workforce to make the diagnosis and monitoring of disease much more efficient. However, in order to transform our services, we need investment to support IT infrastructure, staffing and training.

The impact of digital pathology

Digital pathology:

  • benefits patients by enabling the rapid referral of cases between institutions or across pathology networks, enhancing access to expert advice and opinion on diagnoses.
  • improves laboratory workflow and connectivity and increases flexibility and efficiency of the workforce, helping create digital training resources that support the development of specialists in training
  • increases our power to share slides and more, making it easier for others to benefit from the fantastic expertise in our profession
  • sets the scene for the use of artificial intelligence which will bring great advances to pathology services.

Our work on digital pathology

The College fully supports the adoption of technologies that have the potential to improve patient care, though understand that implementation will require investment however. Only a handful of UK trusts are using digital pathology currently, and to grow digital pathology requires infrastructure including IT systems (an estimated figure of £2–4m for a large hospital), staffing and training a cohort of pathologists to be expert in digital pathology,

This is why we have developed a high level strategy for the implementation of diagnostic digital pathology that provides a framework for considering the implications for diagnostic practice, training and assessment.

Also on the agenda