SIDM Leads New TeleDx Research Effort

Although telemedicine has been available for decades, the COVID-19 pandemic has transformed its usage overnight. From being a niche resource or a convenient alternative for a small group of patients, remote visits using telemedicine resources have become the mainstay for healthcare delivery. Much has been written about the use of telemedicine, but it has been overwhelmingly focused on treatment and management of chronic disease, not on diagnosis. The use of telemedicine for diagnosis, called “telediagnosis” or “TeleDx,” at the current scale is unprecedented and creates a pressing need to understand the implications of this transformation on the quality and safety of diagnosis. Will TeleDx lead to even more diagnostic errors, or can it be leveraged to achieve a newer, more favorable climate for diagnosis that facilitates the diagnostic process and results in better care with fewer errors?

To help navigate this new era of healthcare practice, SIDM is leading an effort to capture and synthesize information about the early successes, the greatest challenges, and the most critical unanswered questions in the use of TeleDx. Funded by the Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute (PCORI) through a COVID-19 Engagement Award Special Cycle, Learning While We Build: Identifying the Must-Know Research Questions for Safe and Effective Telediagnosis launched in July of 2020 and will conclude in June of 2021. The project, led by SIDM in collaboration with an esteemed Advisory Team, began with an extensive literature search and will include listening sessions with five key stakeholder groups: patients, clinicians, clinical practices, telemedicine companies, and hospitals and health systems. The project team will produce a series of listening session summaries, sharing key takeaways from the discussants, contextualized within related findings from the current literature. A public-facing webinar will be held in May of 2021 to share this body of knowledge and ultimately the entire collection of insights will be analyzed and integrated into a final report.

Collectively the project aims to understand what is working best in the current TeleDx paradigm, where the biggest gaps exist, and what support and education is most needed to effectively achieve high-quality TeleDx. Project learnings can be used by:

  • PCORI and other funders, to help prioritize research and funding.
  • Patients and patient groups, to learn about and support the effective use of TeleDx in their communities.
  • Telemedicine companies, to make products and services most accessible and effective.
  • Clinicians, hospitals, and health systems to optimize their own diagnostic processes and learn how to interact most effectively with their patients at a distance.

Stay tuned for more information about the May 2021 webinar and for project publications anticipated to being production in early 2021.

This project was funded through a Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute (PCORI) Eugene Washington PCORI Engagement Award (EAIN-00177).

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Learn more about SIDM's telediagnosis project and sign up to receive email notifications when a new issue brief is published. The first in the series of issue briefs will be published early 2021.