LOINC provides universal codes and names that provide the global lingua franca for identifying tests and observations. Initiated in 1994, the LOINC committee was organized to develop a common terminology for laboratory and clinical observations because there was a growing trend to send clinical data electronically from laboratories and other data producers to hospitals, physician’s offices, and payers who use the data for clinical care and management purposes.
At the time, and still today, most laboratories and clinical services use HL7 to send their results electronically from their reporting systems to their care systems. However, the tests in these messages are identified by means of their internal, idiosyncratic code values. As a result, receiving care system cannot fully “understand” and properly file the results they receive unless they either adopt the producer’s test codes (which is impossible if they receive results from multiple sources), or invest in the work to map each result producer’s code system to their internal code system.
Over the years, LOINC has been supported financially by many organizations and individuals. The National Library of Medicine has been a primary sponsor of LOINC work for almost two decades, currently under contract HHSN276201400239P. The Regenstrief Foundation has also been a supporter of LOINC’s work from the beginning. We’re thankful for the generous support we receive and a more detailed listing is available at loinc.org/funding-support.
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LHDS partners with many collaborators around the world, including working with 15+ federal agencies and components of the National Institutes of Health. Regenstrief has a long history of collaborating with and supporting the mapping efforts of federal agencies. The Institute has worked extensively with the VA and DoD about LOINC laboratory, radiology, and clinical document codes. Institute investigators have worked with the Indian Health Service as they continue their efforts to map all of the laboratory data from its 250 facilities to LOINC. The CDC has an overarching Public Health Information Network initiative with many programs that are implementing LOINC. To date, Regenstrief has worked in various capacities with many U.S. federal agencies and NIH institutes that are using LOINC to catalog their common data elements.
LHDS maintains official collaborations with numerous international standards organizations as well as other professional societies. These partnerships include Health Level 7 (HL7) and the International Health Technology Standards Development Organization (IHTSDO), the Radiological Society of North America (RSNA), the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE), the American Medical Association (AMA), and the American Physical Therapy Association (APTA). LOINC is also a member of the Health Standards Collaborative (HSC), an executive forum and process for senior leadership of the U.S. healthcare standards development community. Dr. Vreeman was recently voted Chair-elect of this group.
With growing national efforts towards interoperable electronic laboratory data exchange, especially the CMS Meaningful Use initiatives, interest in the use of UCUM for standardizing communication of units of measure has also grown. The Unified Code for Units of Measure (http://unitsofmeasure.org) is a code system to facilitate unambiguous electronic communication of quantities together with their units. While not yet widely adopted in systems, we believe that UCUM is the only viable choice for units standardization and thus support its use in conjunction with LOINC.
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