Informatics for practicing anatomical pathologists: marking a new era in pathology practice

Mod Pathol. 2010 Mar;23(3):349-58. doi: 10.1038/modpathol.2009.190. Epub 2010 Jan 15.


Informatics can be defined as using highly advanced technologies to improve patient diagnosis or management. Pathology informatics had evolved as a response to the overwhelming amount of information that was available, in an attempt to better use and maintain them. The most commonly used tools of informatics can be classified into digital imaging, telepathology, as well as Internet and electronic data mining. Digital imaging is the storage of anatomical pathology information, either gross pictures or microscopic slides, in an electronic format. These images can be used for education, archival, diagnosis, and consultation. Virtual microscopy is the more advanced form of digital imaging with enhanced efficiency and accessibility. Telepathology is now increasingly becoming a useful tool in anatomical pathology practice. Different types of telepathology communications are available for both diagnostic and consultation services. The spectrum of applications of informatics in the field of anatomical pathology is broad and encompasses medical education, clinical services, and pathology research. Informatics is now settling on solid ground as an important tool for pathology teaching, with digital teaching becoming the standard tool in many institutions. After a slow start, we now witness the transition of informatics from the research bench to bedside. As we are moving into a new era of extensive pathology informatics utilization, several challenges have to be addressed, including the cost of the new technology, legal issues, and resistance of pathologists. It is clear from the current evidence that pathology informatics will continue to grow and have a major role in the future of our specialty. However, it is also clear that it is not going to fully replace the human factor or the regular microscope.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Humans
  • Image Processing, Computer-Assisted
  • Medical Informatics / methods*
  • Medical Informatics Applications*
  • Pathology / methods*
  • Pathology / trends
  • Software
  • Telepathology