INDIANAPOLIS — LOINC, the world's most commonly used universal code system for identifying medical test results, observations and other clinical measurements, has announced the recipient of the annual LOINC Award for Distinguished Contributions. The award, in its second year, honors individuals whose work advances the interoperability that ensures that medical data can be recorded, electronically exchanged and ultimately used to improve health -- when and where needed.
Susan Matney, PhD of Salt Lake City, Utah was presented with the award at the annual LOINC meeting in June. Matney is long-time active member of the LOINC community.
Matney, a veteran nurse, is now a Senior Medical Informaticist with Intermountain Healthcare. She is a Fellow of the American Academy of Nursing and was selected as the 2007 pioneer in nursing informatics by the AMIA nursing working group. Recognizing the need to harmonize the use of LOINC with another leading multidisciplinary terminology, Dr. Matney led efforts to create collaboration between the two to meet the needs of the nursing community. As part of the Nursing Knowledge Big Data Science Intitative, Dr. Matney co-leads a workgroup focused on clinical models and terminology standards. Matney was instrumental in supporting the updating, coding, and inclusion of the Nursing Management Minimum Data Set (NMMDS) in LOINC.
In addition to hospital systems, clinical laboratories, health information exchanges, and other private and quasi-private sector entities, LOINC users include ministries and departments of health around the world. U.S. government agencies in the LOINC community include the National Library of Medicine, the departments of Veterans Affairs and Defense, the Indian Health Service, the National Cancer Institute, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
LOINC is used in 166 countries and is available in Chinese, Dutch, Estonian, French, German, Greek, Italian, Korean, Portuguese, Russian, Spanish, and Turkish in addition to English.
LOINC traces its roots to the mid-1990s when Regenstrief Institute investigators, using their extensive experience with electronic medical records, developed the Indiana Network for Patient Care, the nation's first citywide health information exchange. They found they could receive data from various INPC-member institutions but that the clinical content was difficult to interpret because each used a different code for the same test or observation. A blood sugar result at one institution might be called a blood glucose score at another and something different at a third facility. It was as if the computer system was receiving messages in Vulcan, Klingon, and Ferengi when all it had been programmed to understand was English.
To solve the problem, the Regenstrief Institute researcher-clinicians, led by Clement McDonald, M.D., developed the lingua franca they called LOINC, short for Logical Observation Identifiers Names and Codes. The Regenstrief Institute is the owner, developer, and overall steward for LOINC.
"Today, LOINC is the most accepted and used international standard of names and codes for medical results, observations and other clinical measurements in the world," said Regenstrief Institute investigator Daniel Vreeman, PT, DPT, MS. "Thanks to dedicated people like Susan Matney, we are constantly expanding both in terms of codes and users with the ultimate goal of improving human health." Vreeman serves as Director, LOINC and Health Data Standards in the Center for Biomedical Informatics at the Regenstrief Institute.
With support from the National Library of Medicine, the Regenstrief Institute and other organizations, LOINC is an open, freely available standard. Updates to LOINC are issued twice annually.