3 Implications of 3M’s Open Source Health Data Dictionary

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Last month, 3M Health Information Systems released their Health Data Dictionary as open source software making it free and available worldwide. The open source contract is part of an agreement with U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) and Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), 3M Healthcare Data Dictionary will provide the core technology to enable semantic interoperability for the joint DoD/VA integrated Electronic Health Record (iEHR), making it possible to share medical knowledge and secure patient data between care providers at U.S. military treatment facilities located around the world and VA Medical Centers.

What is the 3M Health Data Dictionary?

The 3M Health Data Dictionary is a controlled medical library server that incorporates linking terms from multiple clinical information systems and standard terminologies, such as LOINC, RxNorm, and SNOMED CT. It maps disparate medical terms to give data context and meaning, and is used to standardize data to make it interoperable and computable.  Simply put, it can be viewed as a master translator  tool linking terms together for the purpose of having structured data to comply with meaningful use requirements.

How it Works

  • The Health Data Dictionary server is the complete repository of concepts and associations, maintained and made available for download in its most up-to-date version.
  • Organizations can download and install the package locally to ensure constnt access to its contents communicating via HL7
  • Users of the Health Data Dictionary will have the ability to request additions to the dictionary, which the team at 3M will review and determine if they should be included
  • The Health Data Dictionary becomes ever evolving repository of information evolving with the language

By making the 3M Health Data Dictionary open source, it drives more standardized documentation as well as being able to take documentation that does not look standard and make it standard by linking terms together.

3M Health Data Dictionary Implications:

  1. Interoperability-  Accelerates the implementation of EHRs  and help healthcare organizations achieve meaningful use standards Also encourages interoperability for health information exchanges
  2. Analytics – Enables users to perform outcomes analysis and reporting by individual patient or across enterprise populations. Can serve as a foundation for  enhancing healthcare analytics, decision support, and business intelligence.
  3. ICD-10-The Data Dictionary can help mitigate disconnects between ICD-9 and ICD-10 coding systems similar to GEMS

Overall, the goal is to achieve a common language in healthcare with the ability to access meaningful data, analyze it, and deliver it back to clinicians to improve decision support for patients.



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