Upcoming Changes for December 2012 and Future Releases

Here is a little sneak peak about some of the upcoming changes planned for future LOINC releases.

Hi, we wanted to tell you about a few new things that are headed your way!

Field Changes to LOINC Table (all formats)

In the upcoming December 2012 LOINC release, we're going to make 2 changes the fields in the LOINC Table (all formats). One we told you about a while back and another that's new:

field action
MAP_TO Delete The MAP_TO field was originally createdto store a single replacement LOINC term number for when a LOINC was deprecated. We later learned that there were times when there was more than one possible replacement term, depending on certain conditions. To address this problem we created a new MAP_TO table that was released with version 2.34. The original MAP_TO field has been retained for compatibility but at the time we said we'd pull the plug with a target of December 2011. Well, we gave you a bit longer than that, but now your time is up. If you are using the MAP_TO information (which you should), you'll have to shift to the MAP_TO table, because the MAP_TO field in that file is going to its final resting place.
HL7_ATTACHMENT_STRUCTURE Add We've continued to work closely with the HL7 Attachments Work Group to support their mission of developing electronic healthcare claims standards. In the context of attachments covered under HIPAA, the current proposals use LOINC codes in a couple of ways. One way is to identify the attachment type (e.g. a Discharge Summary or Radiology Report) when creating and sending attachments. This new field will help identify which LOINC codes are approved by the HL7 AWG to be used in this manner and what format they should be sent in: whether as Structured content using the C-CDA or with the Unstructured template of C-CDA. More detail about how this field will be used will be published in an upcoming HL7 supplement document.

Additional, new format for LOINC Table File - Text Format: CSV with Database load scripts!

For the December 2012 release, we're going to distribute the LOINC Table in an additional format. Historically, we've distributed the LOINCDB.txt as a tab-delimited file but have distributed other files in Comma Separated Value (CSV) format. We thought it best to standardized (imagine that), so had a lengthy discussion and talked it over with some key stakeholders. We also considered pipe ("|") delimited too. Then we just decided to settle it with an arm wrestle, and CSV won. As a bonus we can point to RFC 4180 as formal reference for the file format. It also opens easily in common spreadsheet applications too.

But, we're interested in hearing your feedback. Have a favorite delimiter: tab vs. pipe vs comma? Make your case for why we should use it.

To be clear, we're going to distribute BOTH the CSV format and the usual Tab-delimited format in December 2012 and probably June 2013, with the target of making the new format the ONLY format in the December 2013 release.

We are also going to add basic support for loading the text file into some popular databases (Oracle and MySQL to start). LOINC users with advanced IT skills will probably want to write or tweak their own load scripts, but these will be enough for those who just want to drop it in a database and poke around. To make this possible, we're going to make some other changes to the zip archive, including migragrating the license information from a header in the text file to a standalone file. Here's a basic idea of what it will look like.

file/directory description
License.txt LOINC license file.
LOINC_ReleaseNotes.txt LOINC Release Notes file. Describes updates in each version of LOINC.
Readme.txt Text document containing instructions for modifying and using the database loader scripts.
LOINC.csv UTF-8 CSV format of the LOINC Table.
MapTo.csv UTF-8 CSV format of the MAP_TO table.
SourceOrganization.csv UTF-8 CSV format of the SOURCE_ORGANIZATION table.
/Oracle Directory containing the scripts and files needed to import the data into an Oracle database.
/MySQL Directory containing the .sql files needed to import into a MySQL database

Downloading the LOINC Table (all formats) will require signing in with your loinc.org account

Many of you (19,000+) use your loinc.org account for downloading RELMA and the other goodies we offer here, but in the past we've not required a sign in for the LOINC Table as a text file or database. That'll change when we publish the next version. We simply want to be able to better monitor how the community is using LOINC so that we can continue serving up great and useful stuff.