Rhapsody Health Solutions Team

An efficient and automated approach to managing LOINC code standardization

 The increasing number of connected systems, the constant upgrade of existing systems, managing legacy system limitations, the release of new data sharing guidelines, and the financial and operational requirements to be as efficient as possible are a few of the many reasons there is a critical eye on data standardization and quality.  

To help organizations recognize opportunities to improve efficiency with code set standardization, Rhapsody works with existing customers to conduct a Semantic Data Assessment. In the assessment, Rhapsody reviews clinical coding data across systems to inspect the semantic terminology contents of the messages. The assessment identifies standard vs. non-standard coding, description and code normalization inconsistencies, prospective mapping results, and outdated content. The goal is to bring awareness and help healthcare organizations make informed decisions about efficiently addressing inconsistent and non-standard data. 

A large healthcare provider comprised of 16 hospitals and health services and its local department of health—recently took advantage of the Rhapsody Semantic Data Assessment to aid efforts in improving efficiency on its path to enhance data quality. 

Improve data quality and save time  

The health system aimed to future-proof compliance with current and upcoming guidelines. They recognized the need to improve efficiency and sustainability in code standardization processes for a variety of reasons: 

Archaic laboratory systems 

The health provider organization’s laboratory system, initially produced on a Linux platform, is dated. To give an example, it operates with a CGA monitor color limit of 16. While they managed to bring it to RAIL 7, even attempting to upgrade to RAIL 8 proved unstable. So it’s no surprise that the system has limited ways of working with LOINC.   

Fragmented methodology for lab codes 

The methodology in place is that lab tests receive separate LOINC codes based on specimen types. This means there is no universal code for specific tests, such as potassium, across different specimen types (like serum, blood serum, etc.). Instead, there is a code for potassium serum, potassium blood serum, and so on. This fragmented approach creates a significant challenge in data standardization. 

Evolving testing methods 

Over time, the health system’s testing methods have transitioned from Roche to Beckman and, later, Siemens. Each technique required a different approach to applying LOINC standards. As a result, the LOINC identifier was based on the modifier used, making standardization incredibly complex. 

Key takeaways from the Semantic Data Assessment 

The healthcare provider organization required a standardized approach for test codes to align with national guidelines and ensure seamless integration within the healthcare system.  

The Semantic Data Assessment uncovered where there was opportunity to reduce manual effort by providing automated solutions that improve code standardization processes. Key takeaways include: 

  • An impressive 85% of the five million HL7 OBX segments provided by the health system were matched with LOINC codes using Rhapsody Semantic on the first try. The OBX segment is primarily used to carry clinical observation and results reporting information, which must be transmitted to the requesting system, another physician system (such as a referring physician’s system), or an archival medical record system. 
  • The healthcare provider organization appreciated Rhapsody Semantic’s ease of setup and configuration point of view, which meant they didn’t have to invest substantial time into implementation. 

Looking forward, the health system will be empowered to adapt to whatever lab system(s) are in place and retain their existing code set mappings and standards, thanks to the extensible endpoints available in Rhapsody Semantic. It will not need to remap thousands of new identifiers when changes occur because they can be mapped to what is already established in Rhapsody Semantic. 

This customer also now has the potential to continue expanding its data mapping efforts, integrating ICD-10 codes into the pharmacy system, and exploring future possibilities such as enriching feeds and data mining for further insights. 

Unlocking the full potential of healthcare data with Rhapsody Semantic 

As a result of the assessment findings, the health system is now implementing Rhapsody Semantic to help them comply with current and upcoming digital health agency guidelines and to architect a more efficient, sustainable, and vendor-agnostic approach to code set standardization. Rhapsody Semantic will continue to be a valuable asset in its toolkit. 

About Rhapsody Semantic 

Designed to manage the breadth and complexity of healthcare code set requirements, Rhapsody Semantic unlocks a single source of truth for data integrity. It is a combined terminology management solution, authoring tool, and FHIR terminology service that enables the cross-mapping of all significant healthcare vocabularies, including diagnostic, lab, and procedure codes. The single application handles everything from metadata to content management, as well as all phases, from development to review to publication, in consistent and proven workflows.  

Are you ready to transform your healthcare data standardization processes? Contact us today to explore Rhapsody Semantic and the Semantic Data Assessment offerings. 

For further reading: 

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