Principal investigator: Rena Yadlapati, MD
Every physician strives for and every patient expects an accurate diagnosis—no matter what the health issue. Advancements in imaging and other technologies continue to enhance diagnostic capabilities for a range of diseases, including gastrointestinal disorders. But even the most sophisticated diagnostic tools can yield erroneous results in untrained and/or inexperienced hands.
In the field of esophageal disorders, high-resolution esophageal manometry (HREM) is the gold standard for diagnosing certain disorders of the esophagus, including difficulty swallowing. The precision of HREM allows gastroenterologists to track esophageal motility or movement patterns to pinpoint functional problems of this essential digestive organ. While HREM provides invaluable information, the skill and knowledge of the GI specialists using this advanced technology varies widely across the country. From disparities in performance to interpretation of HREM data, the potential for inaccurate diagnosis that adversely impact patient care and quality of life is—unacceptably—too high.
Already researchers at Northwestern Medicine have designed a web-based training program and conducted a pilot study: They observed learning curves for HREM among 20 gastroenterology trainees nationwide. Supported by a grant from the Digestive Health Foundation, the investigators led by Rena Yadlapati, MD, will now build on the success of their initial work. They plan to apply their methodology to a larger group of physicians (residents and faculty) with minimal experience with HREM to validate the existing data and determine key competency benchmarks.
Dr. Yadlapati’s team will work with the Instructional Design & Development group at Northwestern University to create interactive training modules. They will then integrate interactive educational video and electronic handbooks, among other tools, into their training system. This approach will help develop learning curves for achieving and maintaining diagnostic accuracy for HREM.