By Gary Palgon, VP Healthcare Solutions, Liaison Healthcare Informatics
As a frequent conference junkie (speaker, exhibitor, attendee, crasher), I know that some conferences cover topics at the strategic and/or business level and others focus on the tactical and/or technical level. This week I’m at Interconnected Health 2012 which has presentations that cover the full gamut of these depending upon the speaker.
Given the conference is about connecting healthcare entities together so healthcare data is broadly available for decision-making, you can imagine that the discussion gets technical quickly. With so many different areas of healthcare converging towards making this happen, the people behind it come from very different backgrounds and speak different “languages”. The solution to allowing everyone to speak the same “language, always comes back to the pipedream of standards. It’s amazing how many standards and other TLAs (three letter acronyms) you have to understand in order to work towards this.
Here’s just a few that were mentioned … LOINC, SNOMED, RxNorm, NPRM, CDA, HL7, DICOM, NCPDP, NHIN, OMG, ESRD, OASIS, MDS, CMS, PHQ-9, MROMIS, PhenX, SDO, CDS, CDA, PHIN-MS, CKM, IHE, HISP
If you haven’t seen some of them before, here’s a few examples of their use
- LOINC for coding all clinical observations, reports and surveys
- NOMED for coding problems and the answer to most LOIC multiple choice questions (SNOMED as the answer)
- RxNorm dor doding drugs and drug allergies
So now that we know standards are the solution, we’re in luck, right? Well, here’s what was said about standards…
– “Having a standard for something is still not enough for success.”
– “Standards are nice, but integration and implementation are still difficult.”
– “The great thing about standards is there are so many to choose from”.
– “Standards Change; Standards are not necessarily technical decisions; standards can be life or death.”
– “Standards, seen one, seen one.”
– “Standard is the only one-word oxymoron.”
So why there is surely some humor and sarcasm above, the truth is there will never be a single standard to solve all healthcare problems. As a matter of fact, even if we settle on specific standards for certain uses, there will always be the need to communicate between multiple versions of a single standard.
Rather than wait for the perfect standard, it’s time to realize that we should continue to make progress on solidifying standards as guidelines, but we need to take action now and be flexible in our ability to relate different standards to one another and the different versions within given standards.
Off to a short Spring Break this weekend which means time to contemplate the future of standards some more…
Until next time,