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9/29/2010
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Kaiser Permanente Donates Terminology Technology

Integrating the Convergent Medical Terminology into clinical information systems could help make the meaningful use of e-health records easier and faster for U.S. healthcare providers.

Slideshow: Who's Who In Healthcare IT
Slideshow: Who's Who In Healthcare IT
Kaiser Permanente spent about 16 years and millions of dollars developing its Convergent Medical Terminology for its own use. But now the healthcare provider is donating the CMT to the global health community -- a dictionary of 75,000 medical terms and concepts for interoperable use among electronic health records.

The open availability of vendors, healthcare providers and others to integrate KP’s CMT in its clinical information systems, including e-health records, can make it easier for clinicians to communicate with each other, as well as with patients.

KP decided to donate its CMT to the International Healthcare Terminology Standards Development Organization (IHTSDO) for distribution in the U.S. by IHTSDO members and the National Library of Medicine, to help other U.S. healthcare providers meaningfully use health IT, KP officials said.

“Every vendor needs to find a way to take standards medical terminology and translate it” so that terms and concepts used in the electronic medical records of patients are understood by clinicians and patients, said Dr. David Blumenthal, national coordinator of health IT during a U.S. Health and Human Services Dept. press conference in Washington D.C. where KP announced the CMT donation.

The donation of CMT by KP for use by others will allow vendors and providers to implement common medical terminology content into new and existing e-health records faster and more easily than developing their own translation solutions, Blumenthal said.

KP’s CMT donation also includes a set of tools to help create and manage terminology, and processes to control the quality of terminology that is developed or added in the future. CMT also includes mappings to other classifications and standard vocabularies, such as the Systematized Nomenclature of Medicine Clinical Terms, or SNOMED CT. Also, CMT can link to standard codes, such as ICD-9 and ICD-10, used in medical claims documents.

CMT is used by about 15,000 clinicians at KP hospitals and other care facilities in the U.S. as it “sits inside” KP HealthConnect, which is KP’s EHR system, said KP senior VP and CIO Phil Fasano in an interview with InformationWeek.

KP HealthConnect, based on software from Epic, is the nation’s largest private deployment of an EHR system in the U.S. Only the VA has a larger EHR system in use in the U.S.

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