Informatics, digital & computational pathology

Other applications


Editor-in-Chief: Debra L. Zynger, M.D.
Ashley Hein, M.D.
Ana Yuil-Valdes, M.D.

Last author update: 30 April 2020
Last staff update: 18 May 2021

Copyright: 2020-2023,, Inc.

PubMed Search: Applications of digital pathology [TIAB] education

Ashley Hein, M.D.
Ana Yuil-Valdes, M.D.
Page views in 2022: 244
Page views in 2023 to date: 47
Cite this page: Hein A, Yuil-Valdes A. Education. website. Accessed June 8th, 2023.
Definition / general
Essential features
  • Use of digital images in formal classroom training offers many benefits
  • Technology allows for the creation of a variety of learning resources that learners at all stages of education can utilize
  • Digital pathology allows for ease of teaching to clinical colleagues
  • There are many resources for professionals wishing to increase their competency in digital pathology
  • Roadblocks to implementation do exist and are outlined here
Trainee education
  • In 2009, 50% of surveyed pathology courses in the United States and around the world incorporated or had immediate plans to incorporate virtual microscopy and since then that number has only risen (Hum Pathol 2009;40:1112)
  • Digital images have been used in the classroom at all levels of training including undergraduate, graduate (medical, veterinary, dental, cytology technician, podiatry and physician assistant) training and pathology resident training
  • Benefits of whole slide images in student training
    • Accessible to any standard browser at any time of day
    • Standardizes education, ensuring every student sees the same high quality image
    • Reduces costs through decreased microscope needs, elimination of the need for a traditional lab space to teach in and less technical staff required to assist
    • One teacher instructs several people at the same time
    • Image quality does not degrade over time
    • Allows for group learning as students view images simultaneously
    • Are easily incorporated into student exams
    • Allows for maintenance of orientation within the specimen with the use of thumbnails
    • Creation of online virtual microscopy courses as well as student self study at home
    • Allows students and teachers to make annotations on images (BMC Med Educ 2016;16:311)
  • No change to significant improvement was found in the exam performance of medical students trained with virtual microscopy compared with those trained with traditional glass slides (Clin Anat 2007;20:565, J Taibah Univ Med Sci 2016;12:183, Adv Physiol Educ 2012;36:158)
  • Many reports of implementation of digital pathology in student training are available as resources
Continuing education
Learning resources
Roadblocks to implementation
  • Initial costs of implementation
    • Acquisition of high resolution whole slide scanners
    • Extra time must be taken to scan in slides in addition to regular workflow
    • Optimization of the scanner
    • Additional training of staff to use digital software for teaching
    • Must pay for digital storage space for long term storage of large image files
  • Thought that use of digital images decreases ability of students to use microscopes, although comfort level with microscopes may or may not be relevant to student professional goals
  • Poor interoperability between vendors such that images scanned in with the scanner from one company sometimes cannot be viewed with the software from a different company
  • Resistance by faculty and staff who feel they have inadequate training in this new technology

Benefits of digital pathology

Digital pathology advances medical education and training

Social media in pathology education

Board review style question #1
    Which of the following is true about the use of digital images for teaching?

  1. Difficult to implement
  2. Doesn’t facilitate international teaching
  3. Increases accessibility to students
  4. Is expensive
Board review style answer #1
C. Increases accessibility to students. Using digital images for teaching is inexpensive (numerous free platforms available) and facilitates international teaching. While there is an initial learning curve to learn new technology, once in place digital imaging makes teaching much easier. Additionally, use of existing free image banks allows educators to use digital images without any additional technical knowledge. It also increases accessibility of images to students.

Comment Here

Reference: Education
Board review style question #2
    Which of the following is true about the use of whole slide images?

  1. Cannot be accessed anytime
  2. Cannot be accessed anywhere
  3. Decreases the use of microscopes
  4. Doesn’t allow image annotations
Board review style answer #2
C. Decreases the use of microscopes. Whole slide images can be annotated at length and accessed anytime, anywhere in the world. This imaging modality decreases the use of microscopes.

Comment Here

Reference: Education
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