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Digital diagnostic tech improves GP accuracy

New study says using digital diagnostic advice can help reduce risk of misdiagnosis


A new study using computer-simulated patients has found that GPs can improve the accuracy of their diagnoses if they are given digital diagnostic advice before they start testing for ailments.

The study, published in the British Journal of General Practice, found that by providing GPs with diagnoses to consider before they start testing what they thought might be affecting their patient, that they can improve the accuracy of their diagnosis.

The study's authors say the need for diagnostic support for general practice is important as misdiagnoses are likely, for example, when strong diagnostic features are absent, or a more common disease could explain some of the symptoms.

The authors say that the priority is the need to intervene early before GPs start gathering information to test their hypotheses on what is making their patient ill.

The study worked by reminding GPs of possible diagnoses to consider early on in their encounters with a series of computer-simulated patients.

In total 297 GPs diagnosed nine patient cases, differing in difficulty, in one of three experimental conditions: control, early support, or late support.

Data were collected over the internet and after reading some initial information about the patient and the reason for encounter, GPs requested further information for diagnosis and management from computerised diagnostic support systems (CDSSs).

Those receiving early support were shown a list of possible diagnoses before gathering further information. In late support, GPs first gave a diagnosis and were then shown which other diagnoses they could still not discount.

The study found that reminding GPs of diagnoses to consider before they start testing hypotheses can improve diagnostic accuracy irrespective of case difficulty, without lengthening information search. In this study, an improvement of 6% with early support was obtained in diagnostic accuracy.

9th January 2015

From: Healthcare



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