How consistent healthcare terminology can help reduce medical errors

Oct 3, 2018

In recent years, talks of EHR communication and medical practices have become quite common. The relation between these two might seem obvious, yet there are still some who oppose the idea of better connectivity and interoperability between EHRs and healthcare organizations. Medical error is a topic which brings uneasiness among healthcare practitioners mainly because in some cases it can be difficult to determine the cause of the error, and additionally because taking responsibility for a medical error might seem like an equation of failure[1]. Consistent healthcare terminology can help reduce medical errors and is a step towards tackling the problem at hand.

According to the findings of Martin Makary, a professor of surgery at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, and his co-author Michael Daniel, deaths caused by medical errors may be the third leading cause of death in the US after heart disease and cancer [2]. Additionally, in their research, which was published in the British Medical Journal (BMJ) in 2016, Makary and Daniel claim that clinical data should have the possibility to be shared the same way as researchers share new findings[3]. Consistent, standardized clinical terminology may be key to helping medical practitioners access and understand clinical data found in healthcare applications, and thus reducing the likelihood of error.

But what exactly is a medical error and why is it so challenging to talk about it openly? Medical error is defined as a preventable adverse effect of care. There are two major types of medical errors: the first one related to actions not taken, such as not strapping a patient to a wheelchair, and the second one associated with wrong actions taken, such as administering a medication to a patient with a known allergy towards it[4].

Combining IT and healthcare data exchange can result positively in the sense that a better display of EHR information will positively impact the statistics of medical errors. Automatic double-check of the prescriptions will also potentially reduce the number of errors being made. At the core of all medical data and how it’s used, is the strength (or weakness) for the consistency and accuracy of the clinical data and descriptions. Proper terms, descriptions, versions and even mapping from one code set to another can help providers quickly and accurately assess existing EMR data from one or more sources, and to make quick and medically appropriate decisions. This accurate clinical data may also be able to link diagnosis, medications and alert for common medical errors. Healthcare organizations need to improve their systems, and usage of computer technology can help them achieve this.

Acknowledging one’s mistakes can be difficult and negative judgments may occur. The fear of punishment is another cause for the growing number of unreported medical errors.  Yet, errors happen and we (as a medical community) should be able to analyze the root cause and take steps minimize repeat errors. In some cases, however, analyzing a medical error might seem complicated as unknown factors – such as a development of a medication allergy – can present. In those cases, it might be harder to predict such complications. But it all starts with acknowledging that there is a problem and that it needs to be dealt with.

Our product, HealthTerm, is a terminology platform for the international healthcare sector which can help your healthcare system by providing the same consistent, accurate clinical data ‘language’ for your healthcare applications. We can help your health organization with various tasks related to terminology, structuring content, and code systems. This means that all your healthcare data will be displayed in a shared language and thus will be more comprehensible for medical practitioners.  Better communication and exchange within your healthcare data means that medical errors are less likely to occur.  And this is what we should prioritize – namely, patient safety.

[1] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK499956/

[2] https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/to-your-health/wp/2016/05/03/researchers-medical-errors-now-third-leading-cause-of-death-in-united-states/?noredirect=on&utm_term=.d78fca230c2e

https://ehrintelligence.com/features/reducing-medical-errors-with-improved-communication-ehr-use

[3] https://www.bmj.com/content/353/bmj.i2139

[4] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK499956/

HealthTerm® powered by CareCom

What is HealthTerm?

HealthTerm is a terminology platform, developed by CareCom over the last 15 years for the international healthcare sector.

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How does HealthTerm Work?

HealthTerm handles all tasks related to terminologies, code systems and structured content – from creation of a new code system to translation of international code systems or mappings between local code lists and international standards.

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What makes Heathterm Unique?

HealthTerm is unique in having a full set of tools to create and maintain all types of code systems and at the same time, it has the performance/security to handle the biggest healthcare enterprises on run-time look-up.

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Orion is excited to announce our migration to HealthTerm. The flexibility combined with the high quality control of HealthTerm's tooling is by far the best the market offers today. We offer our customers a complete tooling package with everything from ease of use, maintenance of local code systems and mapping to a huge range of standard code systems based on international process standards with workflow control and process statistics. Additionally the software enables handling multi lingual processing on the fly, patient friendly and clinician friendly terms. Thousands of subset for customers to use in their applications come as standard e.g. for quality measure reporting (CQMs) and detailed support for semantic ontologies.

CHRIS HOBSON
Chief Medical Officer, Orion Health
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“HealthTerm® can be described as the link between applications and organizations in the healthcare system. It is one of the most advanced products within this specialized market. HealthTerm is a complete solution which can be used in any type of job where classifications and terminologies are essential. HealthTerm ensures consistency as all clinical and administrative systems collect codes from one source – and this in turn provides an increase in patient safety.”

NNIT
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IBM Watson Health is striving to transform global health by applying cognitive computing. Most healthcare data is unstructured and simply not captured by current systems. Watson Health will generate actionable insights from this previously unseen data, backed by HealthTerm’s standardization of clinical data. HealthTerm® will ensure consistent terminology usage by enabling the management of international standard terminologies with integrated versioning and cognitive auto-mapping, while also providing an “off the shelf”, multi-tenant/multi-lingual solution complete with a commercialized API and GUI.

IBM
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‘…EU Commission: the epSOS project uses HealthTerm® as the 24/7 terminology webserver, where all the national translations and mappings are created using the mapping and translation modules. The final results of these endeavors now represents the epSOS Central Reference Terminology Server for all participating countries.

The EU Commission
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SHIEC is excited to have CareCom U.S. join the SB&T Partner program,” said Kelly Hoover Thompson, CEO of SHIEC. “SB&T Partners are selected based on their ability to bring unique, value-added solutions to o ur HIE community members. We know some of our members might struggle with a single source of truth for code systems and effective ways to map codes. CareCom U.S. provides the tools and expertise to support our members financial and operational goals. SHIEC looks forward to working with CareCom U.S.

SHIEC
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“HealthTerm® is designed specifically for Clinical Master Data Management, and CareCom has answered all our requirements in a way that shows their experience and a wide knowledge and expertise in managing structured content. We are convinced that HealthTerm® will cover our needs for Clinical Master Data Management on both a short and long-term basis. Furthermore, CareCom will be a great advisor and sparring partner on future customized solutions.” says Alfhild Stokke, Program Manager, The Norwegian Directorate of eHealth.

The Norwegian Directorate of eHealth
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