LOINC and Medical Coding

LOINC stands for Logical Observation Identifiers Names and Codes. LOINC is a universal standard for identifying laboratory observations that was developed by the internationally-recognized non-profit medical research organization, Regenstrief Institute, Inc. LOINC was created in 1994 as a response to the demand for an electronic database for clinical care and management. It is accessible to anyone for free and both the American Clinical Laboratory Association and the College of American Pathologist have endorsed it. The actual purpose of the LOINC database is the exchange and pooling of different results from blood investigations (chemistry, hematology, serology, microbiology (including parasitology and virology), and toxicology; as well as categories for drugs and the cell counts), scanning reports, vital signs (ECG etc) outcomes management, and also for research.

LOINC is likely to become a HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act ) standard for some segments of the Claims Attachment transaction. LOINC applies universal code names and identifiers to medical terms related to the Electronic health record. What are the different databases that are promoted and have been included in it? They include,

  • Medical code names
  • Laboratory names
  • Nursing diagnosis
  • Nursing interventions
  • Outcomes classification
  • Patient data set

Each database currently has over 41,000 observation terms. Each database record includes six fields for the unique specification of each identified single test, observation, or measurement.

  • The measured /observed component
  • Property like length, mass, volume etc
  • Time interval of observation
  • System- context
  • Type of scale (quantitative, ordinal, nominal /narrative )
  • Type of method/ procedure)

The resulting benefits of adopting LOINC include reduced errors, improved communication in integrated healthcare delivery networks, improved EHR (electronic health records), automatic transfer to public health authorities of case reports for reportable diseases, and improved transfer of payment information.