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
CMT was created with collaboration among more than 1,000 KP clinicians -- including doctors, nurses and pharmacists -- as well as technologists over the last 16 years, said Fasano, who estimated that KP spent “many millions of dollars” to develop the technology.

CMT is used in the underlying architecture of KP’s health IT systems to support data flow between health care providers. It provides mapping to standardize the use of terminology and ensure systems, some already in use in most U.S. medical offices, can talk to each other effectively.

The utilization of CMT will support a common set of medical concept descriptions so that one doctor’s diagnosis can be reconciled with another’s, as well as understood by patients.

For instance, while a doctor might indicate in a patient’s record that the individual experienced a MI, or myocardial infarction, CMT would translate that for the patient as “heart attack,” said Susan Matcha, a KP physician.

Also, CMT helps to clarify terminology for patients so that’s it’s more "patient friendly," she said. For example, if a doctor diagnoses a patient as “morbidly obese,” CMT would translate that for the patient as “obese, with BMI greater than 40,” she said.

“We want doctors to have information but don’t want the medical terms to be misunderstood or scary,” she said. “This provides translation between languages.”

CMT is “the Rosetta stone” for EHR usage among clinicians, as well as clinician relationships with patients, said Fasano.

CMT also includes the key taxonomies required for Stage one of the HITECH Act’s Meaningful Use programs, such as problem list sets in SNOMED CT. This helps clinicians map to the standards set by the Office of the National Coordinator of Health IT and the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services.

The National Library of Medicine expects to have CMT available for use by end of October. KP will also continue to add to the CMT, and others are invited to do so as well. KP will also donate $1 million annually over the next three years for ongoing support of CMT, KP officials said.