LOINC turns 25

Schermata 2019-02-15 alle 15.27.20

Today is the 25th anniversary of LOINC, established on 16 February 1994 as a coding system for the exchange of clinical and laboratory observations between computer systems.

LOINC celebrates this anniversary with a LOINC day that traces the evolution of this standard.

LOINC, which stands for Logical Observation Identifiers Names and Codes, was initiated in 1994 by Clem McDonald, then an investigator at Regenstrief Institute, a non-profit medical research organization associated with Indiana University

At the time—and still today—most laboratories and clinical services use HL7 to send the results electronically to their care systems. However, the tests in these messages are identified by means of their internal, idiosyncratic code values. As a result, receiving care system cannot fully “understand” and properly file the results they receive unless they either adopt the producer’s test codes (which is impossible if they receive results from multiple sources) or invest in the work to map each result producer’s code system to their internal code system.

Over time, the use of LOINC has become more and more widespread. Today it is a common language (a set of identifiers, names, and codes) for identifying laboratory tests, health measurements like vital signs and anthropometric measures, standardized survey instruments, and more. LOINC also contains codes for collections of these items, such as panels, forms, and documents.


LOINC enables the exchange and aggregation of clinical results for care delivery, outcomes management, and research by providing a set of universal codes and structured names to unambiguously identify things you can measure or observe.

Put in another way, LOINC provides the lingua franca for interoperable data exchange.
Today, it contains concepts for everything from a serum alpha 1 antitrypsin level to a zygomatic arch x-ray report. For each concept, LOINC contains many other rich details, such as synonyms, units of measure, and carefully crafted descriptions.

The present release 2.65 contains 89,271 term. To learn more, visit this page.

Happy birthday to LOINC!

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