Collaboration centers CPT code set in interoperability quest

Andis Robeznieks , Senior News Writer

Furthering the goal of ensuring that new digital health technologies are an asset to physicians and not a burden, the AMA will collaborate with the standards-development organization, Health Level Seven International (HL7), to promote interoperability, standardization and the efficient exchange of health-related data.

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The work supports the adoption of existing AMA practices to facilitate the use of the AMA’s Current Procedure Terminology (CPT®) code set with HL7 standards. Fast Healthcare Interoperability Resources (FHIR) has become an important standard to advance information sharing across health care. As health information systems are increasingly interoperable, improving access to administrative and clinical information is critical.

The agreement builds on more than a decade of cooperation between AMA and HL7 in support of standardization that drives health data interoperability. FHIR-based technology that uses CPT will give patients and their care team more complete and timely information and improved clinical decision-making. It also opens new opportunities for developers to innovate.

Similarly, the AMA CPT Developer Program, launched last year, facilitates access to the AMA’s expertise, content and resources in medical terminology and coding for those in the early stages of concept and product development. By integrating CPT at their core, these products can better communicate in the language of medicine and provide more value to physicians and their patients.

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“By working toward greater CPT accessibility for developers, the collaboration between AMA and HL7 allows the use of CPT in the development and testing of FHIR-based technology to further advance the next generation of health information solutions,” said AMA Executive Vice President and CEO James L. Madara, MD.

“We also look forward to working more closely with HL7 on educational opportunities and collaborating on industry conferences and events,” Dr. Madara added.

This includes providing technical support at HL7 Connectathons, events which provide opportunities for developers, implementers, vendors and other health IT stakeholders to test the interoperability of their proposed health care software systems and applications. 

Under the agreement, technology developers creating and using HL7 interoperability standards and guides will have more seamless access to AMA-published CPT codes and descriptors in their development efforts.

The AMA will continue its participation in HL7 work groups and expand its collaboration with HL7 leadership to update guidance on using CPT code set within specific HL7 products.

The main areas of focus will be:

  • HL7 Implementation Guides, which provide detailed instructions and specifications for the implementation of HL7 standards in health care systems. This includes HL7 FHIR standards and guides.
  • HL7 Value Sets, which are lists of codes and corresponding terms that define clinical concepts to support effective and interoperable health information. Value sets are commonly used in messaging, EHRs, clinical decision-support systems and other health information-exchange scenarios.
  • HL7 Terminology Services, which allow health care developers and applications to use CPT codes and value sets without having to become experts in coding systems.

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“Collaboration with the AMA will provide invaluable opportunities for the communities of developers to seamlessly incorporate this critical terminology within the HL7 development and implementation processes,” said HL7 CEO Charles Jaffe, MD, PhD.

HL7 provides a comprehensive framework and related standards for the exchange, integration, sharing and retrieval of electronic health information that supports clinical practice and the management, delivery and evaluation of health services.

The agreement with HL7 demonstrates the AMA’s continued involvement with the most influential standards development organizations and the integration of foundational clinical code sets and terminologies like CPT.