Being fully digital: perspective of a Dutch academic pathology laboratory

Nikolas Stathonikos, Tri Q Nguyen, Clothaire P Spoto, Marina A M Verdaasdonk, Paul J van Diest

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The introduction of fast and robust whole slide scanners has facilitated the implementation of 'digital pathology' with various uses, the final challenge being full digital diagnostics. In this article, we describe the implementation process of a fully digital workflow for primary diagnostics in 2015 at the University Medical Centre in Utrecht, The Netherlands, as one of the first laboratories going fully digital with a future-proof complete digital archive. Furthermore, we evaluated the experience of the first 2 years of working with the system by pathologists and residents. The system was successfully implemented in 6 months, including a European tender procedure. Most pathologists and residents had high confidence in working fully digitally, the expertise areas lagging behind being paediatrics, haematopathology, and neuropathology. Reported limitations concerned recognition of microorganisms and mitoses. Neither the age of respondents nor the number of years of pathology experience was correlated with the confidence level regarding digital diagnostics. The ergonomics of digital diagnostics were better than those of traditional microscopy. In this article, we describe our experiences in implementing our fully digital primary diagnostics workflow, describing in depth the implementation steps undertaken, the interlocking components that are required for a fully functional digital pathology system (laboratory management, hospital information systems, data storage, and whole slide scanners), and the changes required in workflow and slide production.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)621-635
Number of pages15
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2019


  • diagnostics
  • digital pathology
  • digital primary diagnostics
  • implementation
  • laboratory management


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