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LOINC team’s nimble response provides help to track virus

LOINC®, a universal medical coding system maintained at Regenstrief Institute, has been a leader in fostering communication during the global COVID-19 pandemic. As the virus was first identified, the LOINC team created universal codes to identify lab tests and results related to SARS-CoV-2 and COVID-19. These codes are crucial to helping public health leaders track cases around the world.

LOINC (Logical Observation Identifiers Names and Codes) coordinated with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), public health and reference labs, and in vitro diagnostic manufacturers to create standardized terms to allow health organizations to collect and share results from testing for the virus.

In place of its regular committee meetings, LOINC is also hosting a virtual meeting on March 26 to focus on the use of SARS-CoV-2/COVID-19 codes. The response has been overwhelming. More than 600 people signed up to attend. If you are interested, you can sign up here through Tuesday, March 24.

This pandemic has shed light on the importance of health data interoperability. Each health system and clinic has its own method for categorizing health observations, such as lab tests and clinical documents. The different methods make it difficult for systems to exchange information. In times of crisis, such as the COVID-19 pandemic, having complete data on testing is crucial to understanding the situation and informing public health decisions.

“LOINC codes enable efficient transmission, understanding and, most importantly, use of health data,” said Swapna Abhyankar, M.D., interim director of content development and operations for LOINC. “In public health emergencies, the interoperability provided by LOINC arms public health officials with a more complete set of data from which to make their decisions. I am proud of the LOINC team for its agility and diligence in reacting to this situation and supporting care teams in tracking the virus.”

The COVID-19 terms are available on LOINC’s website.

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