The American Telemedicine Association (ATA) released its new Clinical Guidelines for Telepathology this week. The Guidelines update the ATA’s original 1999 telepathology guidelines, offering healthcare providers new and updated guidance on the specific applications, practice, benefits, and regulatory issues that may arise in the practice of telepathology. The Guidelines were finalized after the ATA considered public comments last June.

Telepathology involves obtaining and reviewing macro/microscopic images for transmission along telecommunication links to obtain a remote interpretation or diagnosis, second opinion or consultation (as well as quality assurance, education, teaching, study, and research).

The telepathology clinical applications addressed in the new ATA Guidelines include: primary diagnosis, intraoperative consultations, secondary consultations, and quality assurance. The guidelines apply to all types of telepathology configurations, regardless of hardware, including static (store and forward), dynamic (synchronous) and hybrid static-dynamic implementations.

Practice guidelines can serve as a useful reference point for the development of a healthcare provider’s standards of care, policies and practices regarding telemedicine and telehealth, and foundation for the deployment of telemedicine services. Standards of practice constitute the basis for uniform, quality patient care and safety, grounded in empirical research and clinical experience.