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Life in the LOINC lane…Keeping up with the latest version

When a new LOINC version is released, The Eagles song ‘Life in the Fast Lane’ always comes to mind.FastLights400
Especially the line “Life in the fast lane, surely make you lose your mind.” I associate “LOINC updates” and “fast” because applying the latest LOINC changes in a timely manner is important for your laboratory information system (LIS).

LOINC is released twice a year, usually in June and December. There are many changes for laboratory and clinical LOINC with each version, including new, discouraged and deprecated terms. There can also be display changes to update.  

The previousLOINC version 2.65, released in December 2018, contained 1408 new terms: 513 for laboratory observations and 895 for clinical observations, survey items and attachments. New laboratory terms included 200 new microbiology terms,
90 new terms in the “Drug/Tox” category (drugs and toxicology), 60 new serologies and 55 new serology terms. Overall, 98 terms were deprecated, 317 components updated, 285 non-component parts changed, and 5978 other attributes changed.
As you can see, a lot can happen from version to version. The last thing you want to do is “Mess around and get lost” (like the song said). Consulting the user’s guide can be helpful for explanations
of content change or update.

The Regenstrief Institute, that publishes LOINC, suggests users update their LOINC mappings within 90 days of release. You can see that there could be obstacles to interoperability if one LIS is on a different LOINC version from another, as they could interpret codes differently when they exchange data, or fail to recognize a new code. That’s why our team at 3M has a target of completing all LOINC updates into our Healthcare Data Dictionary (HDD) within a month, and often in less time.
If staying in that LOINC fast lane becomes too much, let us know if we can help.
Also, if you have other terminology topics that you’d like us to discuss, please contact us.