Health Language Blog

The Importance of Standardized Healthcare Terminology

Posted on 09/14/16 | Comments

In our previous blog, we discussed the importance of leveraging administrative data for better quality assessment. As the wrap-up to this standards blog series, I want to look back at Crossing the Quality Chasm as a foundational work for improving the quality of healthcare delivery. This paper called not only for better quality but also for a reduction in the cost of that care--this at a time when the population is aging, technology is evolving, and research is rapidly expanding evidenced-based medicine. At least eight of the 13 recommendations made by the authors of Crossing the Quality Chasm directly involve the collection, aggregation, and actionable use of healthcare data. The remaining five are supporting those objectives through the development of committees that address quality care and reimbursement models, and in training the workforce to meet the increasing needs of an industry that is becoming more and more reliant on data and analytics.


Topics: ICD-10, SNOMED, LOINC, RxNorm, semantic interoperability, billing, Administrative Data

SNOMED CT: Why it matters to you

Posted on 08/03/16 | Comments

In Part One of our Terminology Standards blog series, we introduced the goal of using industry standards to achieve semantic interoperability and promote better information sharing. The second blog tackled coding and billing standards. This third installment describes the importance of SNOMED CT as the foundation for standardizing clinical content in EHRs.


Topics: SNOMED, data normalization, interoperability, SNOMED CT, standards

Capturing Both Context and Conditions in Family Health History

Posted on 03/20/13 | Comments

Recording a structured family health history is a menu requirement in Stage 2 of Meaningful Use, both for eligible providers* and eligible hospitals**. Both specifications require that the health history of first-degree relatives be recorded, and provide the choice of recording the history either in SNOMED CT or using the HL7 Pedigree standard. One of the key issues we’ve been working with clients on is how to capture both the context (which relative is being discussed) and the condition (medical issues associated with the relative).

The HL7 Pedigree standard provides very explicit directions on expressing context (using the Family Member Value Set). To express the condition, the Pedigree standard is flexible, allowing the use of a variety of terminologies (e.g. SNOMED CT, ICD-9-CM, ICD-10-CM) to capture the conditions that each relative has. Examples of the XML format for the HL7 Pedigree standard can be generated using the US Surgeon General website My Family Health Portrait.


Topics: SNOMED, HL7, Family health history, terminology

SNOMED: What it is and Why it was Added to Stage 2 Meaningful Use

Posted on 01/25/13 | Comments

For many years providers have been doing a good job of summarizing their patients’ current and relevant medical conditions on a “problem list”.  Typically this list is located within the first page of a patient’s chart, ideally enabling the medical provider to quickly assess the current and past medical issues of the patient.  While the intent is clear, the methodology is not – many providers still using paper charts may use acronyms to express a clinical condition (e.g. MS or AA) or they may not add the date of the diagnosis and/or its resolution.  For those providers who utilize EMRs (electronic medical records) the problem may be more complex due to the lack of interoperability between different EMR systems. 


Topics: Meaningful use, SNOMED, clinical documentation