Pact aligns LOINC and SNOMED terminologies

The standards organizations for the healthcare terminologies LOINC and SNOMED have signed an agreement to align the two terminologies, reports Clinical Innovation & Technology.

The collaboration is expected to last at least 10 years, according to the agreement.

The Indiana-based Regenstrief Institute developed LOINC, or Logical Observation Identifiers Names and Codes, as a standard for identifying clinical information in electronic reports.

The International Health Terminology Standards Development Organization maintains SNOMED Clinical Terms (CT), which covers laboratory tests and some types of clinical measurements. The two non-profit organizations have worked together previously on smaller-scale projects.

Daniel Vreeman, associate director of terminology services at the Regenstrief, said the collaboration would help clinical systems worldwide understand and share information they receive from a variety of sources. It will reduce duplicate effort and make EHRs more effective in improving healthcare, Vreeman says.

The focus initially will be on laboratory testing and basic clinical measurements, such as vital signs, reports PulseIT magazine.

In establishing Meaningful Use Stage 2, the Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT called for using single terminologies for various data elements, including SNOMED for problem lists and LOINC for lab data. However, Dave Delano, project director at Massachusetts eHealth Collaborative and executive director of the New England Healthcare Exchange Network, contends at HealthData Management that the industry is not ready for SNOMED in Stage 2, which starts in October.

The American College of Physicians has advocated using the year gained from the pushed back ICD-10 deadline to determine whether ICD-10 codes can be automatically generated from SNOMED-CT terms. The Texas Medical Association, meanwhile, would like to skip ICD-10 entirely and use SNOMED-CT or ICD-11.

To learn more:
- read the Clinical Innovation & Technology article
- here's the agreement (.pdf)
- check out the PulseIT story
- find the HealthData Management piece

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