Health Language Blog

3 Benefits of an Enterprise Terminology Management Platform

Posted on 03/03/15


Fragmentation is a defining characteristic of today’s healthcare ecosystem.

A health delivery organization may manage 40 or more separate IT systems, each of which has its own clinical terminology content and infrastructure. Those terminology silos make it difficult for organizations to leverage isolated clinical data, which impacts downstream activities such as data analytics. The problem intensifies when a health system seeks to share data with other healthcare partners. In that scenario, the relevant data resides in numerous isolated systems scattered across multiple healthcare organizations.

The lack of a common clinical vocabulary across myriad standalone systems is a key obstacle for national efforts to increase interoperability, transparency, and collaboration within the healthcare system.

Enterprise terminology management, however, aims to help healthcare organizations overcome the interoperability issues associated with multiple, incompatible medical terminologies. Enterprise terminology management lets healthcare organizations adopt a single, integrated and trusted source of terminology truth across an enterprise. A clean, normalized data model ensures departmental systems are relying on approved and up-to-date terminologies, maps and value sets. Normalization also facilitates data exchange across organizations.

Here are some of the leading benefits of an enterprise approach for managing terminologies:

1. One Source of Truth

An enterprise-scale solution will include a single content database that provides one source of terminology truth. Contrast this centralized, authoritative source with distributed models in which multiple departments or systems within a healthcare organization maintain their own distinctive terminologies and infrastructure. In a distributed approach, teams may source the same content multiple times within large organizations or they may even be managing content, maps or code groups (or value sets) in spreadsheets or word documents. In addition, terminologies must be periodically updated as business rules change and new versions of standards become available. A centralized, enterprise approach lets organizations update those assets for use across different applications.

2. Enterprise-Wide Governance

Enterprise terminology management enables healthcare organizations to align and govern terminologies across all departments. As a result, an organization can provide uniform, cross-domain guidance on terminology definitions, intended use cases, versioning, authoring, sourcing and implementation. Rather than operating redundant, distributed, department-level terminology teams, organizations can save money in both content licensing fees and any associated FTE costs with maintaining them. The ability to create an overarching policy and governance structure is a hallmark of the enterprise approach.

3. Interoperability Improvement

Health systems that seek to share data with other organizations will find that pairing enterprise terminology management and data normalization is a progressive step in that direction. A single centralized terminology platform that can also normalize data can unlock clinical data within electronic health records to support broader initiatives like HIEs and ACOs. As an example, providers could normalize medication data from disparate EHRs to see how a patient, or a population of patients, is responding to a drug treatment plan across a geographically dispersed health organization.

An Enterprise Solution

Health Language’s Enterprise Terminology Management Platform provides software, content, and consulting solutions that map, translate, update, and manage standard and enhanced clinical terminologies on an enterprise scale. The company’s solution enables the information liquidity required to tackle healthcare’s toughest challenges -- Meaningful Use compliance, ICD-10 conversion, accountable care organizations, and population health management, analytics, ACOs, and semantic interoperability among systems.

Is your organization looking to centralize the management of clinical terminologies? What benefits do you anticipate in doing so? Leave your comments below.

enterprise terminology management


Topics: enterprise terminology management

About the Author

Sarah Bryan is Director of Product Management with Health Language, part of Wolters Kluwer Health.