The Ever-Evolving Research at DEM2019 with Robert El-Kareh, MD, MPH

Robert El-Kareh

Robert El-Kareh, MD, MPH

The Diagnostic Error in Medicine 12th Annual International Conference (DEM2019) will take place in Washington, D.C. from November 10–13, 2019, focusing on the theme of Shaping Policy, Improving Practice. We sat down with DEM2019 Research Committee Chair Robert El-Kareh, MD, MPH, to learn a little more about his past experience with SIDM and the DEM conference, as well as what attendees can expect from this year’s research.

SIDM: What is your history with the Society to Improve Diagnosis in Medicine (SIDM) and the Diagnostic Error in Medicine Annual International Conference (DEM)?

Robert: The DEM conference has been an important event for me for over 10 years now. I first started attending when I was a research fellow and have found it to be a hugely rewarding experience. I really enjoy being a part of such a vibrant and collaborative community and have continued to get more and more involved over these last 10 years – from starting out as an attendee to now being chair of the research committee. Not only have I been able to watch this wonderful community evolve over the years, but I’ve also been able to grow my career alongside it.

SIDM: What changes have you seen in the research presented and discussed during your tenure with the DEM conference?

Robert: The evolution of the research presented at the conference every year greatly reflects our work in the field. We used to discuss very foundational topics, such as the definitions of diagnostic error and methods of evaluation. Of course, some of these conversations still continue to this day, but over the past few years, we’ve begun to have much more rigorous conversation about the scope of the problem and ways to intervene to improve diagnostic safety. It’s been very exciting to see the progress in the research and the topics discussed.

SIDM: How many abstract and poster submissions were there this year? What have you noticed regarding the quality?

Robert: The number of submissions continues to rise every year, and this year we’ve received over 160. The quality and rigor of the work also continues to climb. I think this is due in large part to increased visibility of the problem, which is moved forward by the DEM conference itself.

SIDM: What piece of research are you most excited to see at this year’s conference?

Robert: There are so many well-thought out, impressive submissions – there’s no way for me to choose just one. I’ve seen some exceptional submissions related to cognitive psychology experiments, organizational and point of care interventions, and so much more. I would say I’m probably most excited to hear the experts discuss their work across so many different domains.

SIDM: What did you learn last year that has informed your current research in diagnostic quality?

Robert: Last year’s conference included a lot of important work. Notably, we heard about many effective ways to include patient needs into diagnostic safety research and make sure they’re engaged. There was a large focus on making sure that our work is targeting what is most important to these patients, as well as how to provide feedback to clinicians about the diagnostic process. This has definitely helped push my work forward.

SIDM: What the biggest benefit you receive from attending the DEM conference?

Robert: Attending the conference is extremely valuable. The featured speakers bring clarity of thought on how to move the field forward, and I gain a lot from the oral presentations and posters as well. In addition to scientific and quality improvements and patient safety content, attendees also get to interact with international leaders in diagnostic quality and safety. For me personally, this has also led to great friendships and relationships with dozens of experts working in the field.

SIDM: Is there anything else you’d like to share about SIDM or DEM2019?

Robert: I always prioritize attending DEM each year because I leave with new ideas and inspiration, while becoming reenergized to work on diagnostic safety. This year, I’m really looking forward to the great speakers we have who will be showcasing truly innovative work. I’d also say, whether you have lots of experience or you’re completely new to the field, you’ll always find attending the DEM conference an exciting and valuable experience.

Registration for DEM2019 is open! Register by September 13, 2019 to receive the early registration discount.