16 Organizations Awarded Grants to Test Innovations that Improve Diagnosis and Reduce Disparities

The Society to Improve Diagnosis in Medicine awards $50,000 to 16 organizations through its Diagnostic Quality Improvement Seed Grant Program

Evanston, IL – (August 17, 2021) The Society to Improve Diagnosis in Medicine (SIDM) is issuing the second grant round, totaling $3 million over three years, as part of the organization’s DxQI Seed Grant Program. Sixteen organizations will receive awards up to $50,000 to test interventions to improve the quality, accuracy, and timeliness of diagnoses.

Despite the considerable commitment and expertise of all healthcare team members, delayed or inaccurate diagnoses are happening to millions of patients each year. It is estimated that 12 million adults in the United States experience a diagnostic error every year in outpatient settings alone. Diagnosis failures result in as many as 80,000 premature deaths every year in U.S. hospitals.

“Inaccurate or delayed diagnoses are the most common, catastrophic, and costly of all medical errors,” said Paul L. Epner, MBA, MEd, Chief Executive Officer, SIDM. “The DxQI Seed Grant Program is designed to stimulate innovation in the field of diagnostic quality, an area where practice improvement activity is lagging. Through engaging health professionals and patients in creating, developing and testing promising interventions, the program unleashes the ingenuity of the healthcare community and directs that energy to addressing this issue.”

Over half of the grantees selected will focus on developing interventions to reduce diagnostic errors in three specific disease categories—cancers, vascular events, and infections—which account for most inaccurate or delayed diagnoses that result in serious harm or death according to a study published in Diagnosis. Many grantees are also including a focus on improving diagnostic quality outcomes related to health disparities associated with age, race, gender, or other social determinants of health.

Ultimately, the program will help clinicians, hospitals, and health systems take specific steps to improve diagnostic quality and safety by building an evidence base of effective interventions. Once tested, SIDM will create a clearinghouse of the interventions and be a catalyst for the adoption of effective practices by other organizations across the country.

The DxQI grants align with SIDM’s support for an inclusive approach to reducing diagnostic errors where patients and frontline health professionals engage in developing and testing approaches to improve diagnostic quality and safety.

“A diagnostic error isn’t just about the clinician—it’s about the complete care delivery process and includes all members of the healthcare team, including patients, which is why we sought to award grantees who recognize all of these important voices,” said Doug Salvador, MD, MPH, Chief Quality Officer at Baystate Health and Chair of the DxQI Seed Grant Review Committee. “Solutions to diagnostic questions are important now more than ever. COVID-19 put a spotlight on getting the diagnosis right as quickly as possible and the consequences of failure to the patient, their families, and our society as a whole.”

The 16 grantees awarded in this round are:

  • Beth Israel Lahey Health Primary Care is developing a data-driven model to identify primary care patients at high risk of a missed or delayed cancer screening ordered during virtual visits, increasing the equity and quality of the care provided to these patients.
  • Brigham and Women’s Hospital is creating new referral and patient navigation networks to provide the appropriate follow-up care for patients with abnormal Pap and HPV test results.
  • Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia is improving the way its emergency department providers communicate diagnostic uncertainty within the care team, including patients’ family members, to reduce the risk of diagnostic errors if the patients are admitted to the hospital.
  • Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center is closing gaps in communication with parents of hospitalized children with uncertain diagnoses to give them the information they need to ask questions and serve as engaged members of the diagnostic team.
  • Cleveland Clinic is working to improve the follow-up and resolution of actionable imaging findings, in particular those with high potential for malignancy, by increasing patient engagement in the process.
  • Cook County Health is using electronic medical record language preference tools to decrease infection-related diagnostic errors in patients with limited English proficiency.
  • Intermountain Healthcare is improving screening of intimate partner violence in clinics that offer OB/GYN care with tools that help patients and providers start and normalize conversations on this topic.
  • Lahey Hospital & Medical Center is implementing a radiology recommendation assurance program to ensure that patients with lung nodules, a potential sign of treatable lung cancers, get the follow-up care they need.
  • Mayo Clinic is using a decision support system integrated into a clinical workflow that improves the quality and standard of echocardiogram reports to reduce diagnostic errors of hypertrophic cardiomyopathy.
  • Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center is developing best practices to more quickly and accurately diagnose Acute Limb Ischemia, a condition in cancer patients that often results in amputation or even death.
  • NYC Health + Hospitals/Harlem is developing a single dashboard that all members of the diagnosis and treatment team can easily access to ensure patients are moving through the diagnosis and treatment process in a timely manner.
  • Oregon Health & Science University is assessing the effectiveness of ammonia screening in newborns during a sepsis workup to better detect congenital metabolic errors that could cause neurological damage and mortality.
  • Southern California Permanente Medical Group is evaluating whether a tool that helps patients prepare for their medical appointments increases engagement with their health care team.
  • The University of Alabama at Birmingham is using nurse coordinators, communication tools, and an appointment tracking database to increase the detection and management of acute chest syndrome and asthma in pediatric patients with sickle cell disease.
  • The University of Iowa is creating a tool to identify patients at risk for undiagnosed primary immunodeficiencies and help them navigate the healthcare system to get the care they need.
  • The University of New Mexico Health Sciences Center is improving the identification and treatment of pediatric sepsis with new tools and training across a diverse patient population.

Read the full description of each project.

The DxQI grantees will identify and implement small, practical tests of change, then begin to build evidence supporting interventions that could reduce harm due to diagnostic error if replicated and spread across other hospitals and health systems.

The DxQI Seed Grant Program is an initiative of the Society to Improve Diagnosis in Medicine with support from the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation.

SIDM plans to open the next grant application period in November 2021. Organizations can learn more at www.improvediagnosis.org/dxqi/.

About the Society to Improve Diagnosis in Medicine (SIDM)
The Society to Improve Diagnosis in Medicine catalyzes and leads change to improve diagnosis and eliminate harm from diagnostic error. We work in partnership with patients, their families, the healthcare community and every interested stakeholder. SIDM is the only organization focused solely on the problem of diagnostic error and improving the accuracy and timeliness of diagnosis. In 2015 SIDM established the Coalition to Improve Diagnosis to increase awareness and actions that improve diagnosis. Members of the Coalition represent hundreds of thousands of healthcare providers and patients—and the leading health organizations and government agencies involved in patient care. Together, we work to find solutions that enhance diagnostic safety and quality, reduce harm, and ultimately, ensure better health outcomes for patients. Visit www.improvediagnosis.org to learn more.

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Meet the 2021 DxQI Seed Grant Awardees

Read full project descriptions for the sixteen organizations receiving awards up to $50,000 to test interventions to improve the quality, accuracy, and timeliness of diagnoses.