Patient-Provider Teamwork Makes a Difference in Diagnostic Research

Patient-Provider Teamwork Makes a Difference in Diagnostic Research

Back in December 2017 I shared a blog describing what nurses need to know about diagnostic error. Since then I completed my PhD (yay!), became Assistant Professor at Johns Hopkins School of Nursing, and most recently, was awarded funding by the Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute (PCORI) for my project with The Armstrong Institute Center for Diagnostic Excellence, “Patients Assigned to Research Teams with Nurses and ER providers to Enhance Diagnosis (PARTNERED).” Here’s a look inside the program—and the critical need it addresses.

What is Diagnostic Error?

Diagnostic errors are the most common and deadly of medical errors, yet they remain understudied. A 2015 National Academy of Medicine (NAM) report identified the emergency department as a known high-risk site for diagnostic errors and recommended that enhanced teamwork with patients and nurses could improve diagnosis.  PARTNERED trains patients, identified as patient partners, nurses, and emergency care providers to participate in the design, execution, and dissemination of research on diagnosis.

What is Diagnostic Research?

“Diagnostic” patient-centered research simply refers to patient-centered outcomes research on diagnostic issues rather than therapeutic ones. For example, studying optimal diagnostic strategies for evaluation of headache or dizziness in the emergency department is “diagnostic research” while optimal treatment strategies for migraines, benign paroxysmal positional vertigo, or stroke is an example of “therapeutic research.”

PARTNERED seeks to create a growing cohort of patient partners, nurses, emergency department providers/physicians and researchers who will be trained to participate in patient-centered outcomes research focused on diagnosis.

PARTNERED aims to achieve the following objectives:

  1. Recruit and engage patient partners, nurses and emergency department providers in acute care diagnostic research;
  2. Train patient partners, nurses, and emergency department providers in acute care diagnostic research methods;
  3. Build diagnostic research teams that bring stakeholders and diagnostic researchers together
  4. Evaluate the effectiveness of the PARTNERED program;
  5. Create plans for sustainability to ensure ongoing stakeholder engagement in diagnostic research.

PARTNERED anticipates the following objectives:

  1. Patient partners and healthcare providerswho are trained in diagnostic patient-centered research and are prepared to actively participate in acute care diagnostic research projects;
  2. Stronger partnerships between community patient partners and local diagnostic researchers;
  3. A strong and growing network of patient partners engaged in local diagnostic research;
  4. Trainees who have engaged in diagnostic research projects who can train future patient partners in a sustainable train-the-trainer program.

Under the direction of the Center of Diagnostic Excellence and in collaboration with our community partners and the Stakeholder Advisory Board, PARTNERED trainees will be engaged to assist in future training sessions for patient partners and stakeholders. This will create a sustainable learning cycle for the ongoing development of patient partners in diagnostic research, further advancing health care equity.


Dr. Kelly Gleason, Assistant Professor at the School of Nursing, is co-Investigator of this award and will function as Engagement Director. In this role, she will facilitate patient partner, nursing, and provider interactions with researchers. Dr. Patricia Davidson, Dean of the Nursing School, will chair the Stakeholder Advisory Board which will provide guidance from the project’s design to its implementation and sustainability.

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