More than 40 healthcare organizations, including Geisinger, Intermountain Healthcare, Johns Hopkins Medicine and Children's Hospital of Philadelphia as well as numerous patient advocacy groups have launched a focused initiative to improve the accuracy and quality of medical diagnoses in order to thwart patient harm.
Dubbed ACT for Better Diagnosis, the project is being spearheaded by the Society to Improve Diagnosis in Medicine and calls on organizations to identify and spread practical steps to make sure diagnoses are "Accurate, Communicated and Timely."
"Nearly everyone will receive an inaccurate diagnosis at some point in their life and for some, the consequences will be grave. Major improvement is needed to systematically identify how to improve diagnostic quality and reduce harm to patients," said Paul L. Epner, CEO and co-founder of SIDM.
The groups, working in concert with SIDM, identified some initial obstacles hurting diagnostic accuracy including: incomplete communication during care transitions as patients are transferred between facilities, physicians or departments; lack of measures and feedback as there are no standardized measures for hospitals, health systems, or physicians to understand their diagnostic performance; the need for need timely, efficient access to tools and resources to assist in making diagnoses; patients and care providers report feeling rushed by limited appointment times threatening their ability to gather a complete history or the time to thoroughly discuss any further steps in the diagnostic process; and the inherently complicated process of diagnosing patients.
"There is limited information available to patients about the questions to ask, or whom to notify when changes in their condition occur, or what constitutes serious symptoms. It's also unclear who is responsible for closing the loop on test results and referrals, and how to communicate follow-up," SIDM said.
Tactics being proposed by the coalition include providing online tools that help physicians recognize and avoid diagnostic pitfalls and improve medical education for new practitioners, as well as developing tools that empower doctors, patients and caregivers to communicate test results in plain language.