LOINC and SNOMED CT Terms to be Linked

The Regenstrief Institute, which develops and manages the LOINC laboratory and clinical observation codes, and the International Health Terminology Standards Development Organisation, which manages the SNOMED Clinical Terms standards, will to begin work to link the terminologies.

The two not-for-profit organizations have previously collaborated on shorter-term and smaller-scale projects, but now will form a 10-year cooperative effort to eliminate duplication within the vocabularies, as well as focus their resources on enhancements that serve the needs of the growing number of users of LOINC and SNOMED CT. By aligning how the two terminologies represent the SNOMED CT standard’s clinical semantics and the LOINC standard’s attributes of lab tests and certain clinical measurements, they hope to build on and complement the strengths of each while offering users a common framework within which to use both vocabularies.

Such synchronization could help improve patient safety, as well as the functionality and interoperability of data within EHRs and HIEs, according to leaders at the standards organizations.

"We believe it will enhance the ability of clinical systems worldwide to share and understand the health data they receive from many sources,” says Daniel Vreeman, associate director of terminology services at the Indianapolis-based Regenstrief Institute. “This joint work will add value to both LOINC and SNOMED CT and will help both organizations accomplish more by reducing duplicate effort. Most importantly, a closer alignment of LOINC and SNOMED CT will make electronic health records more effective at improving health care.”

The organizations will immediately focus on combining terms for lab testing as well as some other basic clinical measurements. But they plan to expand into other areas throughout the term of the agreement.

The Logical Observation Identifiers Names and Codes vocabulary standard is designed to enable the exchange and aggregation of clinical results for care delivery, outcomes management and research by offering a set of universal codes and structured names to identify lab and other clinical observations. SNOMED CT, which is a standard multilingual clinical terminology used in at least 60 countries as the foundation for EHRs and other applications, was originally created by the College of American Pathologists.