James Tcheng, MD, FACC, FSCAI
Duke University Medical Center
James Tcheng, MD is a professor of medicine at Duke University Health System and a national advocate for the development and adoption of clinical data standards to support the care of patients with cardiovascular disease.
Over the previous five years, he’s worked with a team of cardiologists, informaticists and terminologists through the Health Level Seven International (HL7) data standards organization to define and publish the nation’s first Base Cardiovascular Vocabulary for Electronic Health Records. The work is available today as the HL7 Version 3 Domain Analysis Model: Cardiology, Release 2.
The work, initiated by the American College of Cardiology Foundation (ACCF)/American Heart Association (AHA) Task Force on Clinical Data Standards, offers a set of harmonized data elements and corresponding definitions that can be used to collect and exchange information relevant to cardiovascular conditions.
“We viewed HL7 as the perfect venue for publishing standards for the clinical community,” said Tcheng. “The HL7 process is open and collaborative, and the vetting that occurs through balloting makes the work even better by the time it is published.”
Dr. Tcheng and his colleagues within HL7 encourage electronic health record (EHR) vendors to adopt the cardiology standards and make them available to providers through their EHR systems. They believe that using the same definitions for common terms will support enhanced patient information exchange among providers, as well as with clinical registries, and for use in research and quality performance measurement initiatives.
“I’m not a formally trained informaticist,” said Tcheng. “But, it’s where it’s at in our profession — if we want to be more efficient and improve patient care and processes, we need to roll up our sleeves and get the informatics parts of this right.”
Efforts are underway with the HL7 Clinical Interoperability Council Work Group to produce Release 3 of the standard, which will include definitions and key data elements useful in the interpretation and analysis of cardiovascular imaging findings. The work will go through the HL7 ballot process in January 2013, with an aim to publish the updated standard in March 2013.
Direct input and leadership from Dr. Tcheng and other HL7 caregivers is critical for producing information standards that truly benefit the healthcare process. If you have a passion for improving the exchange of health information, contact email@example.com for more information about the work of HL7 or the HL7 Clinical Interoperability Council Work Group.
More background on the Cardiovascular Vocabulary project can be found in an article published by the Journal of the American College of Cardiology.