The current medical paradigm of one provider to one patient does not meet the real demand for timely, accurate diagnosis. It takes too long, is too costly and time-consuming, and it is frequently wrong or incomplete.

Results from a three-year project funded by AHRQ (Agency for Health Research and Quality) found that 10% to 30% of medical errors are the result of diagnosis errors. In the U.S., 45% of patients visiting a doctor did not receive the correct diagnosis or treatment.[1]

When a diagnosis error occurs, it takes an average of 303 days to correct the error.[2]

Just 10 years ago, the average physician needed to understand 10 to 20 patient facts to make a diagnosis. Today, that number has grown to over 50; in the next decade, it will reach into the hundreds.

These problems are exacerbated by a growing shortage of clinicians within the communities of greatest need, where individuals often work long hours, have even less time to pursue medical diagnosis, and have fewer clinical facilities to support accurate diagnosis. Federally planned increases in coverage will exacerbate the declining clinician-to-patient ratio. In California alone, the increase in Medi-Cal patients is expected to reach 7.7 million and cost the state over $17 billion a year by 2012.[3]

With the vast increase of new medical knowledge, even the best and brightest clinicians cannot keep up. This means latency of knowledge and delayed adoption of new treatments. An average of 17 years is needed before new medical knowledge generated through research is incorporated into widespread clinical practice—and even then the application of the knowledge is very uneven.[4]

This is expensive—both economically and in terms of quality of life—and we all pay the price. On the economic front, market demographics and economic pressure are driving the need to arrest cost. We cannot afford the current paradigm.

[1] RAND, 2009

[2] Thomas, UT-Memorial Hermann Center for Healthcare Quality and Safety, UT Houston Medical School

[3]; April, 2011

[4] U.S. Dept Health and Human Services, Agency for Healthcare Research & Quality, 2011

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