In 2015, the National Academy of Medicine (NAM) recommended federal agencies “provide dedicated funding for research on the diagnostic process and diagnostic errors.” It’s estimated that U.S. research funding on inaccurate diagnoses may be as little as $7 million annually, or 0.02 percent of all federally funded medical research. Relative to its impact on public health, inaccurate diagnosis is almost certainly the most underfunded research area in healthcare—by a wide margin.

More research is needed to:

  • Better quantify the frequency, impact, and contributors to inaccurate diagnoses;
  • Enhance medical education and training to emphasize acquisition and maintenance of diagnostic expertise;
  • Develop, test, and implement novel systems-based and technology solutions to reduce inaccurate diagnoses;
  • Address disparities in accurate and timely diagnosis among populations at highest risk;
  • Develop actionable measures for assessing diagnostic outcomes; and
  • Monitor the ongoing relationship between “under-diagnosis” and “over-diagnosis.”

The Coalition to Improve Diagnosis’ advocacy efforts and contributions to-date include:

Roadmap for Research: Policy Action – Developed by the joint Society to Improve Diagnosis in Medicine and Coalition to Improve Diagnosis Policy Committee, the Roadmap presents a clear and compelling justification and action plan for increased federal funding for diagnosis research, drawing on NAM recommendations.

Consensus Statement – More than 50 organizations have joined the call for federal investment in a three-pronged approach to facilitate and catalyze research toward diagnostic solutions that can be implemented in clinical practice and disseminated broadly:

  1. 1. Establish and fund Research Centers of Diagnostic Excellence to serve as central hubs for conducting critical diagnostic safety and quality research using transdisciplinary team science.
  2. 2. Support and fund diagnostic fellowship training programs that cultivate, train, and develop early-career scientists to expand the currently limited pool of diagnostic researchers.
  3. 3. Develop and validate operationally viable measures of diagnostic processes and patient-centered diagnostic outcomes for use in research and quality improvement efforts.

Federal Spending Bill 2018 – 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.

Does your organization support increased funding to research, measure, and improve diagnostic safety?