Health Level SevenB. (HL7B.) International, the Ann Arbor, Mich.-based global authority on standards for interoperability of health information technology with members in 55 countries, and the Regenstrief Institute, Inc., an Indianapolis, Ind.-based healthcare and informatics research organization, announced an agreement to create a complementary process to develop and extend comprehensive standards in the healthcare industry.
Logical Observation Identifiers Names and Codes (LOINC) is a universal code system developed by the Regenstrief Institute for identifying laboratory and clinical observations. When used in conjunction with the data exchange standards developed by HL7, LOINC's universal observation identifiers make it possible to combine test results, measurements, and other observations from many independent sources. Together, they facilitate exchange and pooling of health data for clinical care, research, outcomes management, and other purposes.
LOINC began in the mid 1990's when Regenstrief investigators, using their decades of experience with electronic medical records, began the Indiana Network for Patient Care, the nation's first citywide health information exchange. The researcher clinicians 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 so it was like receiving messages in French, Spanish and Italian when all they could understand was English.
LOINC was born from the desire to develop a lingua franca. From the beginning it has been a free and open system, encouraging additions, comments and feedback. Two new versions of LOINC are issued annually, with more than 2,000 new terms for tests or clinical observations per release. These new additions are based on requests from end users.