Solution Links Local Lab Data to Standards-Based Terminology
Public health reporting is moving towards standardized, automated reporting for integration, and analysis of health information. In order to merge and analyze health data, codes for laboratory terms must be normalized to a standard that can be automatically and easily exchanged between disparate systems. Combining laboratory tests can be a challenge, however, since laboratories often have their own test names and codes. Automation of public health surveillance and reporting can be achieved with the standardization of laboratory terms from these local or internal codes to a recognized laboratory standard terminology such as Logical Observation Identifier Names and Codes (LOINC) from the Regenstrief Institute. Local test names and codes can be “mapped” (associated with) the LOINC standard resulting in an industry-standard-based way to compare and report laboratory information. Apelon has developed a set of data mapping tools, TermWorks and TermManager, to assist clinical organizations in this mapping process. These mapping tools can be used as part of a comprehensive semi-automated mapping process that reduces human error and inconsistencies, and greatly speeds the development of a map from local laboratory data to LOINC. The semi-automated process consists of initial mapping suggestions provided by the tools followed by a manual validation process by Apelon’s expert clinical team. By mapping each individual laboratory test from their local terminologies to LOINC, hospitals can research aggregate health data for analysis, automated reporting of infectious diseases, population health, accountable care organizations (ACO), and quality measures. Additionally, standardizing and automating laboratory results reduces the occurrence of duplicate lab tests, and eliminates tedious manual mapping of nearly 5,000 lab results as well as paper and fax reports. Public health standardization and automation can provide surveillance that is accurate and timely, improve coordination of care, and securely and confidentially share medical information electronically to different systems.
Apelon has been involved in similar work in California, New York, Florida, Rhode Island, Indiana, and Michigan. Recently, Apelon has helped the Michigan Health Information Network (MiHIN) achieve standards-based Public Health Reporting by normalizing both the Michigan Reportable Diseases list and lab compendiums from local hospitals. The Michigan Reportable Diseases list has been coded using terminology standards such as LOINC and SNOMED. Apelon has worked closely with Michigan hospitals to map local laboratory data to standard terminologies using TermWorks. The process for mapping laboratory test names to LOINC to standardize local codes, utilized Apelon’s tools and services to create a cross-walk between the local laboratory codes and their corresponding reportable disease codes. After completing our verification process, the mappings were loaded into Apelon's terminology server, Distributed Terminology System (DTS), providing the stakeholders the ability to quickly and easily review the data for accuracy. With the normalization of local laboratory codes using terminology standards, Michigan hospitals can now exchange and automatically report their public health data to different systems within the MiHIN health information exchange.