Logical Observation Identifiers Names and Codes (LOINC) is a database and universal standard for identifying medical laboratory observations. It was developed and is maintained by the Regenstrief Institute, a US non-profit medical research organization, in 1994. LOINC was created in response to the demand for an electronic database for clinical care and management and is publicly available at no cost. It is endorsed by the American Clinical Laboratory Association and the College of American Pathologists. Since its inception, the database has expanded to include not just medical and laboratory code names, but also: nursing diagnosis, nursing interventions, outcomes classification, and patient care data set. Several standards, such as IHE or HL7, use LOINC to electronically transfer results from different reporting systems to the appropriate healthcare networks (Source: Wikipedia).
What is LOINC?
LOINC is a common language (set of identifiers, names, and codes) for identifying health measurements, observations, and documents. If you think of an observation as a “question” and the observation result value as an “answer.” Where needed, codes from other standards (e.g. SNOMED CT) represent the “answer.” Of course, you don’t always need a code for the result value. For quantitative results, the “answer” is just the numeric value—with its associated units of measure. Most laboratory and clinical systems today are sending data out using the HL7 version 2 messaging standard. Looking at an example of the place in the HL7 message where the test results go, you can see how a LOINC code identifies the question and a SNOMED CT code represents the answer. We think it is always a good idea to send your local concept identifier and name along with codes from a vocabulary standard. It makes troubleshooting a whole lot easier! Fortunately, this is easy to do within the HL7 message standard.