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Current opinion, status and future development of digital pathology in Switzerland

Abstract

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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