May 7, 2004

VUMC patient tracking, progress system adopted by national database

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Jacek Hawiger, M.D., Ph.D

VUMC patient tracking, progress system adopted by national database

A Vanderbilt University Medical Center system for monitoring and tracking the progress of patients has been adopted for use by the keepers of a national database.

The Logical Observation Identifiers Names and Codes (LOINC) will provide Vanderbilt’s system to other institutions all over the United States. The result should be better patient care, according to Judy Ozbolt, Ph.D., R.N., Independence Foundation professor of nursing and professor of biomedical informatics.

Ozbolt is coordinating efforts to use daily and monthly reports on goal achievement to improve patient care.

“Studies have shown that patients do better when their health care team sets and talks about therapeutic goals. But there isn’t a set of standard goals to rely on,” she said.

“Incorporating our goal statements into LOINC will make them available to clinicians and researchers in other institutions for their own quality improvement initiatives. Using the LOINC standard makes it possible to accumulate and compare information from multiple institutions to advance evidence-based practice.”

VUMC’s system has created a language or standard terminology that will allow computer systems to communicate, sharing a variety of health care terms, including vital signs, clinical care, and research related information.

“LOINC is recognized by the Federal Government for regulatory and reimbursement purposes, so it makes sense for Vanderbilt to get our therapeutic goal statements incorporated into LOINC,” said Ozbolt.

Steven Brown, M.D., associate professor of biomedical informatics at VUMC, said sharing information like this is critical.

“Standard terminologies such as the ones Vanderbilt has developed are infrastructure that improves computer applications that doctors and nurses use, such as WizOrder, in order to do our job faster, better, or cheaper,” said Brown. “Standard terminologies are key, sharable infrastructure to help medicine fully embrace the information age.”

LOINC is one of the sets of terms and codes recommended by the National Committee on Vital and Health Statistics for adoption as a national standard for use in clinical, regulatory, and financial transactions.

“The adoption of Vanderbilt’s goal statements is going to directly improve the future data collection effort of national data on health and vital statistics,” said Peter I. Buerhaus, Ph.D., Valere Potter Professor and senior associate dean for Research at the School of Nursing.