To Enhance Patient Outcomes, Make Clinical Data Usable

David Lareau | Government Health IT | August 23, 2012

If physicians have access to more clinical data, does this mean that patient outcomes are enhanced? Possibly, but only if providers can retrieve the most relevant information quickly, in a logical format, and at the point of care. More clinical data is available to physicians than ever before. New government initiatives encouraging electronic data exchange and advanced technologies make it easier to translate disparate but related clinical concepts from multiple sources.

Clinical data exchange, however, is inherently complex. Medications, diseases, procedures, and other medical concepts each follow unique coding and classification systems, such as RxNorm, LOINC, CPT, ICD-9, and ICD-10. The use of standard terminologies improves interoperability between disparate systems because similar concepts can be linked together. A common language for clinical terms is thus critical for the efficient exchange of data between health systems, physicians, labs, pharmacies, and other venues of care.

With technology in place to facilitate data exchange, individual physicians are now flooded with vast amounts of clinical data. While this wealth of information is a boon to healthcare, its value is not fully realized unless providers have tools to decipher and organize the information in a usable format at the point of care...