A Program to Provide Clinicians with Feedback on Their Diagnostic Performance in a Learning Health System

Jt Comm J Qual Patient Saf. 2021 Feb;47(2):120-126. doi: 10.1016/j.jcjq.2020.08.014. Epub 2020 Aug 29.


Problem: Reducing diagnostic errors requires improving both systems and individual clinical reasoning. One strategy to achieve diagnostic excellence is learning from feedback. However, clinicians remain uncomfortable receiving feedback on their diagnostic performance. Thus, a team of researchers and clinical leaders aimed to develop and implement a diagnostic performance feedback program for learning that mitigates potential clinician discomfort.

Approach: The program was developed as part of a larger project to create a learning health system around diagnostic safety at Geisinger, a large, integrated health care system in rural Pennsylvania. Steps included identifying potential missed opportunities in diagnosis (MODs) from various sources (for example, risk management, clinician reports, patient complaints); confirming MODs through chart review; and having trained facilitators provide feedback to clinicians about MODs as learning opportunities. The team developed a guide for facilitators to conduct effective diagnostic feedback sessions and surveyed facilitators and recipients about their experiences and perceptions of the feedback sessions.

Outcomes: 28 feedback sessions occurred from January 2019 to June 2020, involving MODs from emergency medicine, primary care, and hospital medicine. Most facilitators (90.6% [29/32]) reported that recipients were receptive to learning and discussing MODs. Most recipients reported that conversations were constructive and nonpunitive (83.3% [25/30]) and allowed them to take concrete steps toward improving diagnosis (76.7% [23/30]). Both groups believed discussions would improve future diagnostic safety (93.8% [30/32] and 70.0% [21/30], respectively).

Key insights and next steps: An institutional program was developed and implemented to deliver diagnostic performance feedback. Such a program may facilitate learning and improvement to reduce MODs. Future efforts should assess long-term effects on diagnostic performance and patient outcomes.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Communication
  • Feedback
  • Humans
  • Learning Health System*
  • Pennsylvania