Use of Radiology Procedure Codes in Health Care: The Need for Standardization and Structure.
Radiographics. 2017 Jul-Aug;37(4):1099-1110. doi: 10.1148/rg.2017160188. Wang KC1, Patel JB1, Vyas B1, Toland M1, Collins B1, Vreeman DJ1, Abhyankar S1, Siegel EL1, Rubin DL1, Langlotz CP1.
Radiology procedure codes are a fundamental part of most radiology workflows, such as ordering, scheduling, billing, and image interpretation. Nonstandardized unstructured procedure codes have typically been used in radiology departments. Such codes may be sufficient for specific purposes, but they offer limited support for interoperability. As radiology workflows and the various forms of clinical data exchange have become more sophisticated, the need for more advanced interoperability with use of standardized structured codes has increased. For example, structured codes facilitate the automated identification of relevant prior imaging studies and the collection of data for radiation dose tracking. The authors review the role of imaging procedure codes in radiology departments and across the health care enterprise. Standards for radiology procedure coding are described, and the mechanisms of structured coding systems are reviewed. In particular, the structure of the RadLex™ Playbook coding system and examples of the use of this system are described. Harmonization of the RadLex Playbook system with the Logical Observation Identifiers Names and Codes standard, which is currently in progress, also is described. The benefits and challenges of adopting standardized codes-especially the difficulties in mapping local codes to standardized codes-are reviewed. Tools and strategies for mitigating these challenges, including the use of billing codes as an intermediate step in mapping, also are reviewed. In addition, the authors describe how to use the RadLex Playbook Web service application programming interface for partial automation of code mapping. © RSNA, 2017.