Clinical Natural Language Processing
HealthDecember 20, 2021

Taming the data tsunami: Establish a single source of truth

In a recent webinar titled, Taming the Data Tsunami: 5 Healthcare Terminology Tactics For Success In The Post-COVID Ecosystem, I joined my colleague Cheryl Mason and experts Dr. Howard Strasberg and Dr. Barbara Antuna discussing five essential terminology tactics for achieving success in various healthcare initiatives given today’s evolving ecosystems. 

The #1 tactic, which I referred to as “boring” during the webinar, may be boring when you think about what it is, but when you think about what it can do for you and the time it saves, it becomes a very exciting topic. Cheryl may or may not have agreed, listen to the webinar to find out.

 #1 Terminology tactic: “Single source of truth” 

So, what is the #1 tactic? We often call it the "single source of truth." Others call it healthcare reference data, some say enterprise code set management, and still others call it clinical or medical terminology management. If you come from the data management space, the term reference data management is sure to resonate. As is so common in healthcare, people may describe the exact same thing many different ways. Whatever you call it, it is having real-time access to the latest clinical, administrative, and coding data sets needed for any initiative that requires high-quality data. Which is everything, right?

An enterprise-class terminology management solution is an essential foundational component for data governance, data management, analytics, and data science. It must be applied across the healthcare ecosystem starting with the interface terminology used within EHRs. It is necessary to facilitate the ability to harmonize data from multiple sources, thus enabling advanced analytics, data science, and even to facilitate accurate claims processing.

Key capabilities of a terminology management platform:  

  • A comprehensive library of standard clinical, billing, and administrative data sets plus specialty data sets essential for your use case such as:
    • Consumer-friendly terms for effective communications with consumers
    • Sensitivity code groups for flagging or suppressing sensitive codes
    • Mappings between claims and clinical data to link claims data with clinical records
  • API integration options for both run-time lookups and downloading full data files for loading into your data repository or healthcare application
  • Fast availability of updates with convenient notifications and release notes detailing the specific changes
  • And, for organizations on the forefront of innovation, an integrated authoring platform allowing you to extend or customize terminologies such as:
    • Creating custom terms for the EHR
    • Creating value sets for clinical decision support
    • Defining value sets for dialing in population cohort identification for value-based care or care management
    • Normalizing non-standard or unstructured data to standards for accurate analytics

With a robust terminology management platform, you no longer have to worry about data accuracy. You can be confident that all codes are correct and valid, and that you have all the latest changes, such as all the latest COVID vaccines. Whether the data is enabling claims processing or advanced analytics, you can be confident that the results are accurate.

If you missed our previous entries, make sure to catch up! Read Part 1: Taming the data tsunami: 5 clinical terminology tactics for success, and Part 2: Leverage clinical terminology for high-value use cases. And, stay tuned for our next installment which will dive into our fourth terminology tactic: leveraging purpose-built data sets to address your specific use case.

Sarah Bryan
Director of Product Management at Health Language, Wolters Kluwer, Health
Sarah supports the company’s Health Language Health Language solutions by understanding challenges managing healthcare terminologies to enable the semantic interoperability necessary for data accuracy
Health Language Reference Data Management
Centralize and manage your reference data for clinical, claim, and business data to enable interoperability, drive compliance, and improve operational efficiencies.
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