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Current opinion, status and future development of digital pathology in Switzerland
  1. Julia Unternaehrer1,
  2. Rainer Grobholz2,
  3. Andrew Janowczyk3,
  4. Inti Zlobec1
  5. on behalf of the Swiss Digital Pathology Consortium (SDiPath)
  1. 1 Institute of Pathology, University of Bern, Bern, Switzerland
  2. 2 Institute of Pathology Kantonsspital Aarau, Aarau, Switzerland
  3. 3 Precision Oncology Center, Department of Oncology, Lausanne University Hospital, Lausanne, Switzerland
  1. Correspondence to Dr Inti Zlobec, Institute of Pathology, University of Bern, Bern 3008, Switzerland; inti.zlobec{at}


Aims The transition from analogue to digital pathology (DP) is underway in Switzerland. To assess relevant experiences of pathologists with DP and gauge their outlook towards a digital future, a national survey was conducted by the Swiss Digital Pathology Consortium. Similar surveys were conducted in other countries, enabling a meta-analysis of DP experiences.

Methods Pathologists and residents were asked to complete a survey containing 12 questions. Results were compared with similar studies conducted in the United Kingdom, Sweden, Canada, and India.

Results The estimated response rate among practicing pathologists and trainees nationwide was 39.5%. Of these, 89% have experience with digital slides, mainly for education (61%) and primary diagnostics (20%). Further, 32% have worked with an image analysis programme and 26% use computer-based algorithms weekly. Interestingly, 66% would feel comfortable making a primary diagnosis digitally, while 10% would not. Most respondents believe more standards and regulations are necessary for the clinical employment of DP. Noted advantages include ease of access to slides and the resulting connectivity benefits, namely collaboration with experts across disciplines, off-site work, training purposes, and computational image analysis. Perceived disadvantages include implementation costs and issues associated with IT infrastructure and file formats.

Conclusion The survey results suggest that experiences and perspectives of Swiss pathologists concerning DP is comparable to that of the other reporting countries undergoing transitions to digital workflows. Although more standards and regulations are needed to ensure the safe usage of these technologies, pathologists in Switzerland appear welcoming of this new digital era.

  • digital pathology
  • diagnostics
  • image analysis

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  • Handling editor Dhirendra Govender.

  • Contributors Study design by JU and IZ. All authors contributed the formulation of questions. JU created the survey and analysed the results. All authors edited the manuscript and approved the last version.

  • Funding The authors have not declared a specific grant for this research from any funding agency in the public, commercial or not-for-profit sectors.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Patient consent for publication Not required.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

  • Data availability statement Data are available on reasonable request.