A group of pathologists and laboratory leaders from across the U.S. is urging federal officials to continue certain regulatory exemptions implemented during the COVID-19 pandemic that allow the use of remote work in clinical laboratories and pathology.
In an open letter to the U.S. Congress published in Nature Medicine, the pathologists, including Dhanpat Jain, MD, Professor of Pathology and of Medicine (Digestive Diseases) in the Department of Pathology at Yale School of Medicine, also call on Congress to amend the Public Health Service Act by updating the 34-year-old Clinical Laboratory Improvement Amendments statutes to “account for non-traditional diagnostic modalities and the last three decades of medical progress.” They said remote diagnostics is essential for pathologists – and their patients.
One of the early regulatory exemptions adopted in the pandemic enabled the optional use of remote work in clinical labs and pathology. This meant pathologists could continue providing patient care in a safe environment through the remote reviewing of microscopic slides, which is essential for cancer diagnostics.
Exemptions during COVID-19 removed the need to obtain and maintain a separate home license for remote review of diagnostic materials if certain conditions are met. These conditions ensure all other CLIA requirements are maintained.
“Remote work has already improved the lives of patients and physicians, by enabling access to an
expanded workforce that is not bound to the physical laboratory,” the letter reads. “We, the laboratory leadership, strongly believe that continuing the implemented enforcement discretion for remote work enables laboratories and the field of diagnostics the continued realization of highest standards. Failure to make remote work a permanent change would be an oversight that could undermine our legacy of laboratory management and continued innovation in medicine – innovation that has continued despite governing statutes that are over 34 years old.”