Health Information Management

News: Kaiser donates medical terminology database to HHS

CDI Strategies, October 14, 2010

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Kaiser Permanente recently donated its electronic database of medical terminology to the National Library of Medicine and the International Healthcare Terminology Standards Development Organization, which oversees the current international standard medical terminology dictionary. Kaiser’s Convergent Medical Terminology database acts as a translation engine for physicians, clinicians, and patients. The donation of the system to the government comes as part of an effort to help ease the adoption of electronic medical records, according to a September 29 press release from the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).

Kaiser’s donation may have a future impact on the CDI profession. For example, Phil Fasano, CIO of Kaiser Permanente, describes in a Computerworld article how the CMT might take the term coronary artery disease (CAD) commonly used by physicians and translate it into the phrase “atherosclerotic heart disease of native coronary arteries without angina pectoris” commonly used by the World Health Organization. The program further parses the phrase into “heart disease,” for use in a patient’s personal electronic health record, Fasano states.
“One of the key challenges to achieving a coherent health record for every U.S. consumer is the need for consistent data across all systems and institutions,” said HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, in the agency’s press release. “This donation …addresses that critical need by making it easier for health professionals and patients to create standardized data in electronic health records. It can help physicians provide better evidence-based care, while directly supporting the administration’s investment in bringing information technology to health care.”
“Modern medicine is very complex and information about a single patient can be reported in different ways by different doctors who are treating different conditions for the same patient, said Jack Cochran, MD, executive director of the Permanente Federation, in the HHS release. “Utilizing a common terminology that translates complex medical concepts into language that is both clinician- and patient-friendly has helped us coordinate teams, improve the quality of care for our patients and enhance efficiency in our organization. We would like to share the tool we developed with the country.”

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