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Inside the Lab Digital and computational pathology

Survey Says…

While we often cover the rise of digital pathology among diagnostic laboratories, it’s long been said that life sciences organizations have pioneered its adoption. But to what extent have they implemented the technology, and how are its benefits perceived? New research commissioned by Proscia surveyed 40 senior executives from major pharmaceutical companies and contract research organizations (CROs). We spoke with Nathan Buchbinder, Chief Strategy Officer at Proscia, to find out more about the results of the “2023 Life Sciences Digital Pathology Survey.”

What was the catalyst for this survey? 

Life sciences organizations have been missing a quantitative benchmark of digital pathology adoption and use. When you consider the impact that this technology is making on data-driven research and development (R&D) – just look at the growing base of scientific publications and conference presentations – this insight is much-needed. Pharmaceutical companies and CROs can draw on it to understand where they are in their journeys and mature their strategies as they seek to capitalize on the full promise of digitization and advance life-saving therapies. 

And what do the results tell us?

The survey’s findings illustrate three broad trends that are especially noteworthy.

First, digital pathology reflects the current state – not the future state – of R&D operations. 70 percent of organizations surveyed have already adopted the technology. 

This isn’t surprising given that the survey also found that digital pathology has made it to the C-level agenda as a strategic priority tied to critical business objectives. The average drug takes 10 to 15 years and costs $2.6 billion to introduce to patients (1); the survey highlights that 80 percent of respondents see digital pathology as a means of overcoming these lengthy timelines. In addition, 68 percent view the technology as a way to cut costs.

Finally, there will be an imminent shift to an enterprise pathology platform that unifies teams, data, and applications, including AI, across the R&D value chain. Over half of the respondents (53 percent) still center their operations around legacy software systems primarily for basic image viewing. Meanwhile, 83 percent of respondents viewed collaboration as a critical reason to adopt digital pathology, likely due to the resulting efficiency gains. 82 percent of respondents that already use digital pathology have begun to implement AI, both to drive more quantitative insights and increase productivity. These results indicate that life sciences organizations are looking to go well beyond image viewing, and centering their routine operations around legacy software is no longer enabling them to scale.  

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  1. Pharmaceutical Researchers and Manufacturers of America, “Research & Development Policy Framework”(2021). Available at:
About the Author
Georgia Hulme

Associate Editor for the Pathologist

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