Tami Jones

What is semantic interoperability? 

June 6, 2018

Semantic interoperability, or the “ability to use digital health information across diverse care settings and clinical software,” makes healthcare data analytics possible. Without it many problems can arise — from using disparate electronic medical record (EMR) or electronic health record (EHR) systems to any given patient having health records from more than one care provider. 

Semantic interoperability is the key to true interoperability that seamlessly synthesizes health information, and Rhapsody Semantic is the market’s leading terminology platform — the answer to the call for semantic interoperability. 

Why is semantic interoperability necessary? 

Say you’re a doctor, and you receive a patient record with one of the patient’s conditions being listed as “Grinch Syndrome.” A computer can’t reliably map “Grinch Syndrome” to any other disease, since it is likely that most providers would rather use the more clinical term. The name sounds harmless, so it must not be that important to map, right? Wrong.  

“Grinch Syndrome” is just another way of saying Postural Orthostatic Tachycardia Syndrome, meaning the patient’s heart is disproportionately small, sometimes “two times too small,” hence the Dr. Seuss reference. Either name indicates a very serious ailment, and if a computer were to leave it out of the EHR or EMR because it doesn’t recognize the name, the doctor would not have access to vital patient information. Possibilities for errors like these necessitate a common language between caregivers, but all caregivers using the same notation in health records is not realistic in practice. Instead, Rhapsody offers terminology solutions to help standardize your clinical information. 

75% of healthcare facilities deal with over 10 EHR/EMR vendors in their daily lives, with the average healthcare facility having 18 vendors in use. Only 2% of facilities use one EMR/EHR vendor.  

Accessing health information is important but making sure that the health information obtained means something to providers is equally important. By using HealthTerm terminology services, you can avoid fatal mistakes in healthcare.  

The aforementioned doctor, without the information about the “Grinch Syndrome” translation, could misdiagnose the patient’s symptom of an elevated heart rate and therefore inaccurately prescribe medication to the patient that gives him adverse side effects.  

Without the patient explicitly telling the doctor something that he believes she already knows the consequences of the bad prescription could be extremely detrimental or even fatal. To avoid a predicament like this, care providers need access to a comprehensive terminology solution. That’s where we come in. 

The lack of semantic interoperability in certain healthcare systems is what makes disparate systems an issue. With a solution like HealthTerm, codes from multiple sources can easily be synthesized into one central health record.  

This is a huge concern in healthcare, with more than 75% of HIMSS Analytics Study respondents saying that disparate systems, among other factors, is one of the biggest revenue cycle management issues facing healthcare today.  

Rhapsody Semantic uses both AI mapping and expert opinions to help care providers to identify what various codes mean within EMRs and EHRs. It gives care providers time to focus on their patients and more pressing hospital issues, rather than keeping physicians and technicians at the computer trying to piece health records together all day. 

Why is Rhapsody Semantic the best option for semantic interoperability? 

Semantic, using AI mapping, can reliably map up to 76% of data on first hit. There is usually about 10% rate of “garbage” codes, which means there is only about 14% of custom codes that would require human intervention. For SNOMED CT concepts alone, Semantic provides more than 350,000 synonyms.  

By using Semantic, your organization can start standardizing clinical records quickly and efficiently. Semantic also allows care providers, health information exchanges, and other health information sources to create exceptional analytics that would not be possible without terminology services.  

We specialize in terminology so your organization can worry about the important things in the patient experience and not have to be concerned with the possibility of critical EHR and EMR omissions. With HealthTerm, you can also create local modifications of mappings, synonyms, and code sets for no additional cost*. There’s also no need for any third-party database licenses.  

Ready to leave the semantics to the experts so you can focus on what is important to you and your organization? Contact us today. 

*with appropriate licensing 

For further reading, check out these clinical terminology resources: 

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