Ongoing Research Funded by DHF

Can we Improve Doctors’ Colonoscopy Skills with a “Report Card”?

2017  | Disease: General Gastroenterology

Principal Researcher: Anna Duloy, MD

Co-Principal Researcher: Rajesh N. Keswani, MD | 

Principal Investigator: Anna Duloy, MD

Skills matter when it comes to screening colonoscopies for colon cancer, the second-leading cause of cancer death in the United States. Some doctors are more skilled than others at finding and removing precancerous polyps (known as adenomas) that may lead to cancer if left to grow. Unfortunately, though, the quality of performing this vital procedure varies widely between gastroenterology specialists, even at the best medical institutions.

Most commonly, the quality of colonoscopy performance is measured by the adenoma detection rate (ADR):  the frequency of finding adenomas during routine screening colonoscopies. Patients whose physicians have high ADRs are less likely to develop colorectal cancer. While ADR fluctuates among individual doctors, the source of this variability remains a mystery.

Constructive criticism can often help improve any endeavor. In prior work, gastroenterology and hepatology fellow Anna Duloy demonstrated that providing feedback regarding polyp detection can significantly improve colonoscopy performance by physicians. Thanks to a Digestive Health Foundation grant, Dr. Duloy’s research team plans to further expand upon on this work by providing new individualized colonoscopy skills feedback to Northwestern Medicine GI specialists. The study will focus on the physicians’ ability to remove polyps (polypectomy) and fully inspect the colon during colonoscopy. Investigators will use video grading by experts to develop pre- and post-scope report cards that will help the specialists to measure their individual performance and ongoing improvement.

Patients who overcome their fears and/or other barriers to schedule and undergo a screening colonoscopy expect the very best of care. Increasing colonoscopy competency could further help to stop a common, fatal, digestive disease before it progresses or even starts.

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