Diagnosis is complex. There are more than 10,000 known diseases and more than 5,000 laboratory tests in medicine today, but only a small number of symptoms provide clues to make an accurate diagnosis. Any one symptom may have many possible explanations.
Diagnosis involves people and processes working together—from the patient who describes symptoms and medical history, to the physician who performs exams and orders tests, to the laboratory scientist who provides test results, to the nurse or physician who reports them back to the patient.
Improving diagnosis requires the cooperation of many different groups and will not happen overnight. The FY 2018 Omnibus Appropriations Act included language emphasizing that improved diagnosis is a “moral, professional, and public health imperative” and requested that “the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) convene a cross-agency working group to propose a strategy to enhance scientific research to improve diagnosis in healthcare.” The report also recommended including consideration of opportunities for public-private partnerships and the development of centers of excellence to propel research forward to improve diagnostic quality and safety.
That’s why more than 40 of the most prominent healthcare and patient advocacy organizations joined together to form the Coalition to Improve Diagnosis and launched ACT for Better DiagnosisTM.
The goal is to improve the diagnostic process by identifying and spreading practical steps that everyone throughout the healthcare system can take—from patients and physicians to laboratory scientists and health system leaders. By working together, the Accuracy, Communication, and Timeliness of diagnosis can be improved.
ACT for Better Diagnosis is an initiative of the Society to Improve Diagnosis in Medicine and supported by the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation and The Mont Fund.