Camilla Frejlev Bæk, Independent Contractor

4 reasons why code system versioning is essential

In the rapidly evolving landscape of healthcare, maintaining accurate and up-to-date information is crucial. With the advent of standards like Fast Healthcare Interoperability Resources (FHIR), the need for versioning has become paramount.  

Versioning enables healthcare entities to fully support the FHIR format and track the evolution of various entities over time. Furthermore, as healthcare terminology constantly evolves, versioning allows us to keep track of how content appeared in the past and how it looks in the present. 

In this blog post, we’ll explore the reasons why versioning of code systems is essential and how it has gained even greater significance during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

  1. Tracking the evolution of healthcare entities 

In the healthcare domain, entities such as medical terminologies, code systems, and clinical guidelines undergo continuous updates and refinements. Versioning provides a means to trace and comprehend the changes that occur over time. An example below is a graph showing the versions of ICD-10-CM and how the content in each version has evolved highlighting the number of new, modified, and retired concepts. 

The evolution of ICD-10-CM shows the importance of adapting to the new versions to benefit from the latest changes. By maintaining a historical record of the versions, healthcare professionals, researchers, and developers can analyze and compare different iterations, understanding the context and intent behind modifications. This information is invaluable for retrospective analysis, research, and ensuring continuity of care. 

  1. Compliance with international standards 

International organizations and content providers frequently release updates to existing healthcare standards and code systems. These updates are typically tied to specific versions, ensuring consistency and interoperability across different systems and organizations.  

By adopting and implementing these specific versions, healthcare entities can ensure compliance with the latest industry standards. This fosters seamless data exchange, improved interoperability, and better collaboration among healthcare stakeholders globally. 

  1. Responding to the COVID-19 pandemic 

The COVID-19 pandemic created an urgent need for accurate and up-to-date healthcare data reporting. As new codes and classifications emerged to capture the unique aspects of the disease, content providers faced pressure to release updates more frequently.  

Simultaneously, healthcare professionals and organizations realized the importance of using the latest code systems and versions to ensure accurate reporting and analysis. The pandemic heightened awareness of the criticality of versioning and instilled a sense of urgency to stay updated with the evolving healthcare terminology. 

  1. Quality assurance and applicability checks 

With the increased emphasis on versioning, content users are utilizing versions as a quality check on content applicability levels. When referring to specific versions of code systems, such as RxNorm September 2019 in the context of the United States Core Data for Interoperability (USCDI), healthcare professionals can ensure the accuracy and relevance of the data they are working with. Versioning allows users to precisely identify and utilize the appropriate release, enhancing data integrity and promoting confident decision-making. 

​​In the ever-evolving landscape of healthcare, the need for robust versioning capabilities is undeniable. As healthcare terminology continues to evolve and content providers release frequent updates, having a product that fully supports the versioning of code systems becomes paramount.  

Such a product not only ensures data integrity and accuracy but also enables healthcare professionals to track the evolution of entities over time, comply with international standards, and make informed decisions based on the applicability of the content. 

By embracing a product that offers comprehensive versioning support, healthcare organizations can streamline their workflows, improve interoperability, and maintain compatibility with the latest industry standards. The ability to manage and track different versions of code systems and dependencies empowers healthcare professionals to access accurate and up-to-date information, enhancing patient care, research, and collaboration. 

The latest release of Rhapsody Semantic includes improved capabilities and features for efficient management of code system versions as well as dependencies between the versions and extensions.   

This upgrade brings a wealth of benefits to your organization, offering a clear view of the currently utilized namespace version while providing a comprehensive history of imported versions within your environment. With versioning control, you gain the power to easily track and trace the evolution of namespaces, ensuring optimal data integrity and accuracy. 

For further reading check out these resources: 

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