The American College of Chest Physicians (CHEST) announces Kavitha Selvan, MD, and Amirahwaty Abdullah, MBBS, as the recipients of quality improvement grants to shorten the time to diagnosis for interstitial lung disease (ILD). 

The announcement was made during the CHEST Annual Meeting 2023 in Honolulu, Hawaii.

The grants will support demonstration projects that implement the educational toolkit created by the pulmonary and primary care experts serving on the steering committee for the initiative Bridging Specialties: Timely Diagnosis for ILD. Launched in collaboration with Three Lakes Foundation, the Bridging Specialties initiative was created to bring together pulmonary and primary care experts with the shared goal of shortening the time to diagnosis. 

“With research showing that Black patients develop ILD at a younger age than White patients and experience higher rates of hospitalization and increased mortality, the diverse population of Chicago serves as the inspiration for our project and will be a central factor,” says Selvan, pulmonary and critical care fellow at the University of Chicago School of Medicine, in a release. “Our project is outlined to work closely with the medical director of the primary care group within the University of Chicago to implement the Bridging Specialties patient questionnaire that assesses risk factors for ILD to identify potential concerns earlier, which is imperative to improving outcomes.”

Affecting 400,000 people in the US, ILDs are often overlooked as a potential diagnosis given their rarity. A proper diagnosis for this disease is further complicated by ubiquitous presenting symptoms that are common in many other diseases, including asthma, COPD, and cardiac conditions, and often leads to a misdiagnosis. This delay in diagnosis, or an outright misdiagnosis, leads to additional delays in receiving proper treatment and, subsequently, a degradation in the patient’s quality of life.

“While ILD is a rare disease, the state of West Virginia has a disproportionately increased prevalence due to a variety of societal factors,” says Abdullah, assistant professor and critical care medicine associate program director at the West Virginia University School of Medicine, in a release. “Despite this prevalence, there is one ILD clinic in the state of West Virginia in comparison to 1,253 primary care providers throughout the state. To address this gap, the project will focus on expanding telemedicine capabilities in order to reach these patients virtually through their primary care physicians who would help us to facilitate the video-assisted visits.”

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