- More than 40 healthcare organizations and patient advocacy groups have launched a campaign to cut down on diagnostic errors and ensure timely treatment for patients.
- Coalition members include Geisinger, Intermountain Healthcare, MedStar Health, the Association of American Medical Colleges, National Quality Forum and ECRI Institute.
- ACT for Better Diagnosis aims to increase diagnostic accuracy by engaging stakeholders to take practical steps like improving how doctors communicate test results.
Each year, some 12 million adults are misdiagnosed in outpatient settings, and up to 80,000 deaths in U.S. hospitals result from incorrect or delayed diagnoses.
Improved interoperability of EHRs could alleviate some of the concerns organizations have, particularly regarding communication among doctors and others who treat patients. Although digital platforms aren't a major focus of the new initiative, if these major health systems can agree on techniques, it could propel real change.
Challenges to quality diagnosis include incomplete communication during patient transfers, lack of metrics to gauge performance and guide improvements, limited support tools to help doctors assess symptoms and test results, and scant information for patients on navigating the diagnostic process, according to the coalition, an initiative of the Society to Improve Diagnosis in Medicine.
There is also a dearth of scientific research on the impact of delayed and inaccurate diagnoses and what would improve the situation.
"Nearly everyone will receive an inaccurate diagnosis at some point in their life and for some, the consequences will be grave," Paul Epner, CEO and co-founder of SIDM, said in a statement. "Major improvement is needed to systematically identify how to improve diagnostic quality and reduce harm to patients."
To improve diagnostic quality, organizations can provide doctors with digital tools to aid in identifying and avoiding diagnostic missteps, increase education on diagnosis in medical and nursing schools and create tools to enhance communication of test results between patients and their doctors.
The fiscal year 2018 Omnibus Appropriations Act directed the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality to establish a cross-agency working group to study the problem and come up with a plan to increase research on ways of improving healthcare diagnosis. The measure also cited opportunities for public-private partnerships and centers of excellence to promote this goal.