Frequently Asked Questions

Below are some FAQ for Australian Pathology Units and Terminology Standards, please click on a question below and you will be taken to the response.

There is an increasing tendency towards the aggregation of laboratory data in the Australian health sector. The usefulness of this data however is limited due the wide variability in test reporting practice for pathology tests in Australia. This variability can be seen in test names, units, reporting intervals (decimal places), reference intervals and types of clinical comments.

This variability has the potential to create confusion and misunderstanding as pathology results are viewed by a wider range of people, including requesting doctors, patients, nurses, pharmacists, dieticians and other allied health workers. Additionally pathology data is becoming more likely to be sent to databases such as practice software, national or regional repositories and personal health records. In these settings data from several laboratories may be combined into a single record and removed from, or at least separated from, the original supporting information (name, units, reference intervals etc).

SNOMED (Systematized Nomenclature of Medicine) is a systematically organised computer processable collection of medical terms providing codes, terms, synonyms and definitions covering diseases, findings, procedures, microorganisms, substances, etc. It is owned and maintained by the IHTSDO. SNOMED CT (Clinical Terminology) is the current form and the Australian variant SNOMED CT-AU is available from https://www.healthterminologies.gov.au/tools website.

Logical Observation Identifiers Names and Codes (LOINC) is a database of terms and standards for identifying medical laboratory observations. It was developed and is maintained by the Regenstrief Institute. For more information visit the LOINC website.

The Unified Code for Units of Measure is a code system intended to include all units of measures with the purpose of facilitating unambiguous electronic communication of quantities together with their units. The focus is on electronic communication, as opposed to communication between humans. For more information visit the Unified Code for Units of Measure website.

A set of standards from Health Level Seven (HL7) for electronic messaging to support clinical practice and the management, delivery and evaluation of health services. The most commonly used set of standards for this purpose in the world, HL7 v2.x messages use a human-readable (ASCII), non-XML encoding syntax based on segments (lines) and one-character delimiters. For more information visit the Health Level Seven (HL7) Website.

AS4700.2 is the Australian Standard for the Implementation of HL7 for messaging pathology and medical imaging (diagnostics). It was developed by, and is maintained by, Standards Australia’s IT-14-6-5 committee. The standard is available at the Standards Australia website.

ADRM is the Australian Diagnostics and Referral Messaging - Localisation of HL7 Version 2.4, Release 2 is the Australian localisation of the international HL7 V2 Standard covering the Laboratory/Diagnostics result reporting and laboratory/radiology ordering specification. It has been expanded to include Referral messaging. PITUS 15-16 and PITUS 18-20 have collaborated with ADHA and HL7 Australia to produce this messaging resource. The standard is available at HL7AUSD-STD-OO-ADRM-2018.1 Australian Diagnostics and Referral Messaging - Localisation of HL7 Version 2.4

FHIRR is a healthcare interoperability standard used to describe data formats and elements published by Health Level 7 (HL7). FHIRR makes implementation and ongoing maintenance of the RCPA SPIA information models and terminology reference sets much easier as it is suited to a wide variety of contexts - mobile phone apps, cloud communications, EHR-based data sharing, server communication in large institutional healthcare providers, etc. The terminology work was facilitated by the CSIRO and is now available via the NCTS. For more information visit the Health Level Seven (HL7) Website.

Does your laboratory want to get onboard implementing RCPA SPIA requesting or reporting terms? If so, check the latest RCPA SPIA information models and terminology reference sets loaded to the NCTS website for all desired Preferred terms and their relevant codes and attributes.

If you can’t find a term, send an email to the PITUS Project Officer at PITUS@rcpa.edu.au as the term may be waiting for review with the relevant Working Group.

Alternatively, for new SNOMED CT-AU terms, download the bulk request template from the NCTS website and email your submission along with supporting documentation to help@digitalhealth.gov.au.

For new LOINC terms, download the LOINC Lab Submission template from the LOINC website and email your submission template along with supporting documentation to submissions@loinc.org.

Interoperability is defined as the ability of a range of health information systems, devices or applications to connect in a coordinated manner, within and across organisational boundaries. This allows health practitioners to access and exchange data with unambiguous meaning. This is necessary to make healthcare safer, more efficient and more effective for individuals and the community.

Introduction to interoperability v1.2

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