Evaluation of a Health Information Technology-Enabled Collective Intelligence Platform to Improve Diagnosis in Primary Care and Urgent Care Settings: Protocol for a Pragmatic Randomized Controlled Trial

JMIR Res Protoc. 2019 Aug 6;8(8):e13151. doi: 10.2196/13151.


Background: Diagnostic error in ambulatory care, a frequent cause of preventable harm, may be mitigated using the collective intelligence of multiple clinicians. The National Academy of Medicine has identified enhanced clinician collaboration and digital tools as a means to improve the diagnostic process.

Objective: This study aims to assess the efficacy of a collective intelligence output to improve diagnostic confidence and accuracy in ambulatory care cases (from primary care and urgent care clinic visits) with diagnostic uncertainty.

Methods: This is a pragmatic randomized controlled trial of using collective intelligence in cases with diagnostic uncertainty from clinicians at primary care and urgent care clinics in 2 health care systems in San Francisco. Real-life cases, identified for having an element of diagnostic uncertainty, will be entered into a collective intelligence digital platform to acquire collective intelligence from at least 5 clinician contributors on the platform. Cases will be randomized to an intervention group (where clinicians will view the collective intelligence output) or control (where clinicians will not view the collective intelligence output). Clinicians will complete a postvisit questionnaire that assesses their diagnostic confidence for each case; in the intervention cases, clinicians will complete the questionnaire after reviewing the collective intelligence output for the case. Using logistic regression accounting for clinician clustering, we will compare the primary outcome of diagnostic confidence and the secondary outcome of time with diagnosis (the time it takes for a clinician to reach a diagnosis), for intervention versus control cases. We will also assess the usability and satisfaction with the digital tool using measures adapted from the Technology Acceptance Model and Net Promoter Score.

Results: We have recruited 32 out of our recruitment goal of 33 participants. This study is funded until May 2020 and is approved by the University of California San Francisco Institutional Review Board until January 2020. We have completed data collection as of June 2019 and will complete our proposed analysis by December 2019.

Conclusions: This study will determine if the use of a digital platform for collective intelligence is acceptable, useful, and efficacious in improving diagnostic confidence and accuracy in outpatient cases with diagnostic uncertainty. If shown to be valuable in improving clinicians' diagnostic process, this type of digital tool may be one of the first innovations used for reducing diagnostic errors in outpatient care. The findings of this study may provide a path forward for improving the diagnostic process.

International registered report identifier (irrid): DERR1-10.2196/13151.

Keywords: decision support systems, clinical diagnosis; medical informatics.