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Inside the Lab Digital and computational pathology

Digital Delegation

If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. Sure – but what if a system is on its knees? Sit back and wait for it to blow over? Or put heads together and start working on the problem?

In a laboratory context, the rest of the world could benefit from the UK’s approach to solving a long-term issue across the field – a marked shortfall in the pathology workforce. To put this into perspective, the Royal College of Pathologists stated that only three percent of UK histopathology departments are sufficiently staffed to meet clinical demand (1). With such concerning statistics, the field has been crying out for a new approach to keep up with the workload – not least a backlog of cancer cases that built up during the pandemic. 

Enter the UK National Screening Committee, who have recently released a technology-centric recommendation report (2) to curb this issue. By adopting these recommendations, including rolling digital pathology out across the National Health Service (NHS), the UK government hopes to improve workflow efficiencies. In oncology, this shift should make it easier to identify early-stage cancer and speed up the diagnosis process. 

As we know, this strategy doesn’t completely remove the strain on pathology labs. After all, highly trained pathologists are key to diagnostic advancements. That being said, I’m sure there are many pathologists who are grateful to hear that we’re making progress towards improved efficiencies in the lab.

Two important questions: i) How long will it take for the rest of the world to follow suit? ii) Will relying on technology-centric strategies prove fruitful in the long run? If you have any thoughts on this topic, please get in touch: [email protected].

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  1. The Royal College of Pathologists (2024). Available at:
  2. GOV.UK (2024). Available at:
About the Author
Jessica Allerton

Deputy Editor, The Pathologist

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