, TX — A Houston VA physician has been recognized with a highly prestigious national award for patient safety.
Dr. Hardeep Singh, chief of the Health Policy, Quality & Informatics Program at the Center for Innovations in Quality, Effectiveness and Safety (IQuESt) at the Michael E. DeBakey VA Medical Center, was recently named the winner of the John M. Eisenberg Patient Safety and Quality Award.
The award, presented annually by The Joint Commission and the National Quality Forum (NQF), recognizes major achievements in health care that improve patient safety and health care quality. Singh received the Eisenberg award for demonstrating exceptional leadership and scholarship in patient safety and health care quality through a substantive lifetime body of work.
Singh, who is also a professor of medicine at Baylor College of Medicine, is recognized for his pioneering career in diagnostic safety and health IT safety. His impressive body of research has led to solutions for addressing misdiagnosis and translated into pragmatic tools, strategies and innovations that are used to improve patient outcomes in clinics and hospitals across the country. His work has influenced initiatives and policy work of many national and international organizations, including the American Medical Association, American College of Physicians and the World Health Organization.
Singh began his career as a general medicine doctor in rural east Texas. He came to the Houston VA in 2001 and embarked upon an impressive research career in 2005, working tirelessly to develop and implement tools to improve healthcare IT, including applications to improve diagnosis.
“Taking care of my Veteran patients inspired me to get into health care safety research…I wanted to use data and research evidence to improve patient outcomes and that’s how I found my true passion,” Singh said. “I see every scientific project as an opportunity to change health care and challenge the status quo in quality and safety.”
Singh’s work bridges silos between researchers, clinicians, and health system leaders both within and outside the VA. Many of his developments, such as E-trigger tools and checklists for communicating test results to patients and providers, are in use across the country to improve patient care. He also helped co-author the “ONC SAFER Guides” that help hospitals perform safety assessments of their electronic health records to address a wide range of patient safety issues related to health IT use. In late 2022, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) will require all eligible U.S. hospitals to use SAFER Guides.
According to Singh, the field of health care safety has evolved quite a bit over his 17 year career.
“Back in 2005 when I began this journey, diagnostic error was an area where scientific knowledge was underdeveloped and research funding was scarce,” he said. “Today, it’s great to see a much more defined scientific path forward when it comes to measuring and analyzing diagnostic error. Putting research into practice has led to the development of some amazingly effective tools, strategies and innovations to improve patient outcomes.”
The Eisenberg Awards recognize groundbreaking initiatives in health care that are consistent with the aims of the National Quality Strategy: better care, healthy people and communities, and smarter spending. Singh said he is grateful to his mentors and to the multidisciplinary team he has assembled over the years and sees the award as a validation of their commitment to intentionally removing silos between research and safety improvement in clinics, emergency rooms and hospitals.
“Our health IT work will now be used by thousands of hospitals and clinicians in the U.S., ” he said. “However, our mission to scale our work on diagnostic safety still has miles to go and I am optimistic this award will inspire others to join this exciting field of study that has potential to make an incredible difference in the lives of patients.”