SNOMED CT and LOINC to be linked by cooperative work

IHTSDO and Regenstrief Institute Inc. have signed a long-term agreement to begin cooperative work linking their leading global health care terminologies: Logical Observation Identifiers Names and Codes, or LOINC, and SNOMED Clinical Terms. This timely and significant agreement will help improve safety, functionality and interoperability for the rapidly growing number of clinicians who manage and exchange health data with electronic medical records.

This agreement builds on and complements the strengths of both organizations and terminologies. The cooperative work will link the rich clinical semantics of SNOMED CT to LOINC codes, which provide extensive coverage of laboratory tests and some types of clinical measurements. By aligning how the two terminologies represent the attributes of laboratory tests and some types of clinical measurements, this collaboration will provide users a common framework within which to use LOINC and SNOMED CT.

Like IHTSDO, Regenstrief is a not-for-profit organization that seeks to enhance the effective delivery of health care. The organizations believe it makes sense to work together to limit duplication of effort and focus limited resources on enhancements that serve the practical needs of the growing number of users of LOINC and SNOMED CT.

Over the past few years, IHTSDO and Regenstrief have worked together on shorter-term and smaller-scale projects. This landmark 2013 agreement defines a long-term, broadly scoped, working relationship. To underline the long-term commitment of both organizations, the new agreement will be in force for at least 10 years. The organizations’ immediate focus is laboratory testing as well as some basic clinical measurements, and they intend to expand into other areas of mutual interest in the future.

Read the Press Release announcing the cooperation agreement. Please help us to publicize this development by passing on this information within your organization and to appropriate media contacts in your country.

Next steps

Now, with the agreement in place, the cooperative work is just beginning. In brief, it involves these broad activities:

  1. LOINC Parts that are used in the Cooperative Areas and SNOMED CT Concepts that are used in the “Observables Model” will be mapped to one another to the extent necessary to enable convergence towards a common semantic foundation.
  2. Existing SNOMED CT Concepts that are subtypes of Observable Entity or Evaluation Procedure (and fall with the scope of Cooperative Areas) will be mapped to LOINC Terms.
  3. LOINC Terms that are not already represented by SNOMED CT Concepts will be associated with post-coordinated expressions.
  4. Where appropriate, LOINC Terms that represent observables with ordinal or nominal answer values will be mapped to SNOMED CT Concept names and codes in the LOINC Answer record.

To prioritize the effort, Regenstrief and IHTSDO have agreed to focus the work on these domain areas (which may later be expanded into other areas of mutual interest):

  1. Laboratory, including discrete orders and observations and panel names for orders (excluding panel structure);
  2. Anthropomorphic measurements and evaluations;
  3. Vital signs and physiological measurements.

The IHTSDO and the Regenstrief Institute are able to provide details of how this work is proceeding, with timelines for the various activities, as presented at the IHTSDO business meeting in April 2014. Please click here for the full presentation.

You can read the full text of the agreement between IHTSDO and Regenstrief here

You can also learn more about LOINC and Regenstrief by visiting their web-sites.



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