CMS approves COLA for virtual laboratory surveys

Aug. 14, 2020

COLA continues to expand its capabilities to support laboratories during COVID-19, and recently, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) has approved COLA’s virtual survey process. This process was submitted in response to the current pandemic and its effect on the ability to perform surveys within the timeframe required by CMS, according to a press release from COLA.

“Currently, we anticipate our Virtual Survey Process will be implemented with consideration of a laboratory’s particular situation. COLA will also continue to perform onsite surveys where we deem it is safe to do so for patients and employees in our laboratories and our surveyors,” said Nancy Stratton, CEO of COLA. “We look forward to doing everything we can to help our laboratories maintain the highest level in laboratory quality and patient care during these challenging times.”

The virtual survey process consists of three parts: documentation, review and a video conference. Under this approval, COLA is also expected to perform a brief on-site visit when it is safe to do so.

Laboratories will be selected for the process based on the date of their previous survey, the laboratory’s geographical location, and the type of testing performed. Laboratories that are selected will be contacted by phone with an explanation of the process and a letter requesting submission of documents for review by COLA Surveyors.

After the review of documentation is completed, a video conference between the laboratory and a surveyor will take place using an online meeting platform. During the video conference, the surveyor will ask questions based on her or his findings from the documentation portion of the process. He or she may ask to view additional documents and will discuss any citations noted with the laboratory.

COLA paused surveys in mid-March in response to the initial outbreak of the pandemic. On May 19, COLA resumed on-site surveys in areas deemed safe with the highest regard for the safety of both laboratory and COLA staff.

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