Coalition to Improve Diagnosis Welcomes Three New Organizations

Three leading organizations—two health systems and one laboratory accreditation agency—have recently committed to take action to improve diagnostic quality and safety by joining the Coalition to Improve Diagnosis. Advocate Aurora Health, COLA Inc, and University Hospitals are now among the nearly 60 prominent healthcare organizations that have joined the Coalition.

“Diagnostic error is one of the most important safety problems in health care today and causes the most patient harm,” said Paul L. Epner, chief executive officer and co-founder of the Society to Improve Diagnosis in Medicine (SIDM). “Diagnosis is a complex process that involves the entire healthcare system working together effectively. That is why we need the active commitment of patients, clinicians, hospital and health systems leaders to come together to say that reducing patient harm from diagnostic error is a priority. We need to work together to identify and implement strategies that improve diagnostic quality and safety.”

Convened and led by SIDM, the Coalition to Improve Diagnosis is the only major collaboration of diverse healthcare organizations singularly focused on improving the diagnostic process. Together, they work to find solutions that enhance diagnostic quality and safety, reduce harm, and ultimately ensure better health outcomes for patients.

These three organizations have committed to ACT for Better Diagnosis by joining the Coalition and taking action to improve the diagnostic process:

Advocate Aurora Health is one of the 10 largest not-for-profit, integrated health systems in the United States, caring for nearly 3 million patients and offering more sites of care than any other health system in the Midwest. Diagnostic accuracy is a key aspect of their Patient Safety Strategic Plan. Through using tools such as the SPADE analysis and Safer Dx they aim to understand the improvement opportunities specific to the diagnostic process and develop strategies that help prevent resultant patient safety incidents.

“We are proud to join the Coalition to Improve Diagnosis as one of many ways we’re advancing our patient safety journey to achieve our goal of zero preventable patient harm.,” said Carrie E. Nelson, MD, MS, FAAFP, System Vice President Population Health & Health Outcomes at Advocate Aurora Health. “The literature is clear that diagnostic quality is at the root of some of the most serious patient safety events. Through our involvement with the Coalition, we aim to learn from and contribute to the community and knowledge base brought together under SIDM’s leadership to deliver consistent excellence in diagnostic quality.”

COLA, Inc accredits nearly 7,000 medical laboratories and provides them with a program of education and consultation, and accreditation. As a national. physician-directed organization, they accredit laboratories of all types and sizes to strengthen the safety and accuracy of laboratory testing, which impacts patient experience, patient care, care management, and the interactions of the care team. As part of their efforts to improve diagnostic quality and safety, COLA has developed Lab Testing Matters, an educational forum in which a multidisciplinary community of experts shares its knowledge and best practices, and a near patient testing research initiative that highlights the value of real-time laboratory information to accurate, timely diagnosis, and treatment.

“Reducing diagnostic error involves a multitude of disciplines along with patients and caregivers to form a strong, cohesive team working in concert to provide the best possible outcomes,” said Nancy Stratton, CEO at COLA. “As a physician-directed organization, we are eager to participate with Coalition members to find meaningful and practical ways to improve safety and quality in patient care and share our expertise and experience in laboratory accreditation,” she added.

University Hospitals, located in Cleveland, OH, offers the region's largest network of primary care physicians, outpatient centers, and hospitals. They are in the process of developing a Center for Excellence in Diagnosis with a focus upon the rational use of diagnostic resources. The Center will focus on optimizing healthcare provider diagnostic practices, engaging patients in the diagnostic process, developing guidelines for appropriate use of new and emerging diagnostic tests, and educating to improve clinical diagnosis and reasoning.

"Improving quality and safety in general is a top priority at University Hospitals. We are especially focused upon improving diagnostic processes and reducing diagnostic error. Our commitment to the Coalition is a natural extension of the involvement of key system leaders in improving diagnosis,” said Goutham Rao, MD, FAHA, chief clinician experience officer at University Hospitals. “We are invested in developing a center of diagnostic excellence with an emphasis upon identifying, implementing, and evaluating best diagnostic processes across a variety of settings and disciplines. The Coalition will allow us to share and learn from other members as we move forward in this new decade."

The organizations behind the Coalition represent clinicians, patients, health systems, researchers, and testing professionals—all acknowledging that improvement will require sustained work over several years with all stakeholders involved.