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Regenstrief investigator honored for contribution critical to health information exchange


INDIANAPOLIS — Regenstrief Institute investigator and Indiana University associate research professor of medicine Daniel Vreeman, DPT, has been selected by the Indianapolis Business Journal for it’s Forty Under 40 list which honors high achieving professionals.

Vreeman directs the development of LOINC or Logical Observation Identifiers Names and Codes, the standardization of medical vocabulary essential for the exchange of health information, which requires a common terminology to ensure that medical data can be recorded, transferred and ultimately used when and where the patient needs it. 

An internationally recognized expert in clinical vocabularies and the data standards, Dr. Vreeman has a long-standing interest in the interface of computers and health care. He studied biology at Cornell University, earned a doctorate in physical therapy at Duke University and completed a post-doctoral informatics research fellowship at the Regenstrief Institute. He was the first physical therapist in the United States to receive post-doctoral informatics training.

When LOINC was first released in 1995 it contained about 6,000 terms. Under Dr. Vreeman’s stewardship, LOINC has grown to over 74,000 terms, and the number of users has climbed to over 36,000 in more than 164 countries. In addition to English, LOINC is available in Chinese, Dutch, Estonian, French, German, Greek, Italian, Korean, Portuguese, Russian, Spanish and Turkish.

LOINC users in the United States include the National Library of Medicine, the departments of Veterans Affairs and Defense, Indian Health Service, National Cancer Institute and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the Federal Drug Administration (FDA), as well as health systems from coast to coast.

“A serum folic acid result at one hospital might be called a serum folate result at another hospital blocks away or across the country,” Dr. Vreeman said. “Or it could be called simply folate at a third facility. Without LOINC standardization, it is like receiving messages in French, Spanish and Italian when all you can understand is English. Regenstrief investigators saw the need for a lingua franca almost a quarter century ago, and LOINC, the universal method of identifying medical test results and other clinical measurements needed for health information exchange, was born.”

From the beginning LOINC has been a free and open system, encouraging additions, comments and feedback. Two new versions of LOINC are issued annually, with more than 1,000 new terms for tests or clinical observations per release. These new additions are based on requests from end users vetted by Dr. Vreeman and the LOINC team.

“With support from the National Library of Medicine, the Regenstrief Foundation, the Regenstrief Institute, and other organizations, we continue developing LOINC. LOINC’s growing worldwide adoption is a testament to both the need for a common language and the success of its free and open approach,” Dr. Vreeman said.

“Our long term goal is for every health care organization and information system that shares and aggregates health data to use LOINC codes to index that data. A seamless network of systems and data will enable health care to be more expeditious and effective. LOINC is an essential building block of electronic health information exchange.”