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Bringing Order to Chaos: The Importance of Medical Terminology

Submitted by Meditec on Mon, 09/09/2013 - 18:23
Bringing Order to Chaos

Why do healthcare information management professionals need to study Medical Terminology? Two words: sound decisions. The use of medical terminologies all boils down to streamlining the flow of information among clinicians and health care information management (HIM) professionals so they can ultimately deliver the best patient care. According to an audio feature titled Why You Need Medical Terminology on the Journal of American Health Information Management Association website, HIM professionals benefit from medical terminologies in a variety of ways, most importantly, by preventing confusion and lost productivity. “You have your paper charts and organizational charts but you need a human to process that information,” says Chip Masari, Intelligent Medical Object’s chief terminologist in an interview with the AHIMA. “If you’ve ever gotten a request that you need to recall this drug, and patients who are on that drug, you will have to manually pull all the paper charts. Now by just going to an EHRS or computer-based environment doesn’t necessarily solve that.” "I mean, things are in a computer now that without these dictionaries to search for—you know there are many many different ways to say the same thing, or expounding the same thing for that matter," said Masari. June Bronnert, Intelligent Medical Object’s director of terminology coding, agrees. "HIM professionals benefit because it carries standardized code such as ICD that are as you know are used for billing applications and reporting,” Bronnert said. “You (the interviewer) hit it when you were talking about the financial and meaningful use standards aspect—that information is readily available and ready to be reported without having to go through more additional efforts and start from the beginning," she said. The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation’s presentation on the Importance of Understanding Medical Terminology, also focuses on the benefit of communication ease. The presentation elaborates on how medical professionals can refer to the etymologies, prefixes and suffixes of medical terms to determine the meaning of medical terms; how to diagnose and carry out treatments for the patient based on medical terms; and how to perform easy recordkeeping with the help of harmonized medical terms. In a nutshell, medical terminologies provide professionals a standardized language of medicine that is both decipherable and easy to understand among professionals. They have been implemented for use to avoid ambiguities, misinformation and severe mistakes that may impact the lives of patients and the business health of the health care provider.