Theme 5: Improving diagnostic accuracy and decision-making
Delays in decision-making can, in certain circumstances, be a matter of life or death. But improvements in speed should not come at a cost to the accuracy of diagnosis. That’s why we’re seeking to improve both the timeliness and accuracy of clinical decision-making, where delay and misdiagnosis threaten patient safety.
To improve and streamline the diagnostic pathway we must not only innovate to develop more precise diagnostic tools, but also devise new ways to better support those making clinical decisions. Find out how our research is tackling the challenges related to diagnosis and decision-making in primary and surgical care.
Detecting urinary tract infections
Getting the diagnosis right is crucial to not only ensure patients get the treatment they need, but also to save them from unnecessary treatments that won’t work and could even cause harm. We’re developing and testing a point of care diagnostic tool to prevent errors during treatment and diagnosis of certain conditions. Designed to detect urinary tract pathogens, we’ve now tested this tool in a pilot study of hundreds of clinical samples. Working at the point of care means that people can be treated faster, because samples don’t need to be sent off to the lab for analysis.
We’re also developing a new wearable monitor to identify urinary tract infections associated with catheters. We’ve already carried out a study to validate that our product is effective, and are now looking to implement this tool in clinical settings. We hope this work could enable real-time tissue diagnostics during this invasive procedure.
Supporting GPs’ decisions for cancer referrals
A number of tools have been developed to help doctors work out the risk that a person has undiagnosed cancer. These cancer risk tools consider a number of different factors that could influence a person’s risk of cancer, such as their age and lifestyle habits, and also any telltale symptoms they may have. Taken together, these generate a score that dictates the likelihood that a person could have cancer.
We’ve won funding from Cancer Research UK to look at how these scores can influence GPs’ clinical judgment. We’re looking at how best to present these scores to GPs to support their decisions about urgent referrals for suspected cancer.
Find out more about our work on improving diagnostic accuracy and decision-making from Prof Olga Kostopoulou: