RCPA invites comment on pathology information standardisation

The Royal College of Pathologists of Australasia (RCPA) is set to release for public comment a draft document outlining updated standards, guidelines, terminology reference sets and preferred units of measure as part of its Pathology Information, Terminology and Units Standardisation (PITUS) project.

Public comment will also be invited on the rendering of pathology reports in general practice clinical information systems following a survey of clinicians on how they wanted to view pathology results.

The PITUS project follows the completion of the RCPA's Pathology Units and Terminology Standardisation (PUTS) project, which last year developed standardised reference sets of terminology for pathology requesting and reporting and preferred units of measurement for results.

It includes a list of standardised orderable test codes that cover over 95 per cent of the tests ordered by GPs.

The PITUS project is a continuation of this work and concentrates on the implementation of the standards and reference sets in pathology and general practice information systems. Another focus is to ensure all critical information in a report is transmitted safely.

The chair of the RCPA's steering committee for the project, Michael Legg, said it was the result of around 12 months’ work from dedicated working groups of pathologists, general practitioners, other clinicians, scientists and informaticians and a wider involvement of many who contributed directly to specific elements of the work including pathology practices, general practices and medical software companies.

Associate Professor Legg said the work on the rendering of pathology reports is also being used to inform the current discussions on how to upload pathology reports to the PCEHR. The Department of Health is currently holding a series of meetings on the topic, as well as on how to upload diagnostic imaging reports. Further meetings are scheduled for next month.

Those discussion have led to a general consensus that pathology reports should be uploaded as an immutable PDF in advance of longer term work on how to upload atomic data.

Uploading the full report as a PDF is seen as the safest way to ensure that pathology results cannot be misinterpreted, A/Prof Legg said.

“Nobody knows how [atomic data] is going to be rendered at this point, so until we’re comfortable that it’s working properly, the safest way of doing it is to make sure that’s it is shown in a way that the reporting laboratory would expect it to be,” he said.

On the PITUS project's draft recommendations, Dr Legg said the steering committee had agreed that it was ready to be sent out for public comment, after which modifications will be made where appropriate and it will then become RCPA policy. He said the project had gone very smoothly.

“The steering committee which included RACGP, MSIA, NEHTA and the Department of Health have worked really well together,” he said. “We’ve had around 70 people working for a year and we’ve had really good contributions from general practice. With them, the number gets to more than 500 people involved in this phase of the PITUS program.”

While the RCPA awaits the results of the public comment, the project's working groups are concentrating on how to oversee its implementation. Working group one is working on monitoring the implementation of the standardisation of requesting and reporting in conjunction with the Medical Software Industry Association (MSIA) and the Australian Health Care Messaging Laboratory (AHML).

Working group two has mapped the RCPA's quality assurance program test list to SNOMED-CT-AU codes; working group three has developed draft recommendations and guidelines for the rendering of reports including cumulative ones; while working group four has developed guidelines for the representation and rendering of reference values and age ranges provided for guidance on reports.

Working group five has worked on standardising reporting to clinical registries such as cancer and communicable diseases registries.

The RCPA hopes to have the draft available on its website shortly. To receive an alert when the draft is ready, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. the PITUS project officer, Donna Moore.

The RCPA is also holding a two-day pathology informatics seminar in Sydney in mid-November. Topics include health informatics; information architecture; software engineering, development and evaluation; molecular and genomic information principles; imaging systems; automation in clinical laboratories; decision support in pathology; lab IT infrastructure and laboratory information systems (LIS).

Speakers include A/Prof Legg, Bond University's Tony Badrick, Sonic Healthcare's Lawrie Bott, Peter Joseph and Ken Sikaris, consultant clinical pathologist Leslie Burnett, St John of God Pathology's Glenn Edwards, consultant surgical pathologist David Ellis, Andrew Georgiou of the Australian Institute of Health Innovation, Westmead Hospital microbiologist Vitali Sintchenko and Healthscope CIO Paul Williams.

The RCPA Pathology Informatics Seminar is being held on Wednesday, November 12 and Thursday, November 13 at the Alan Ng Education Centre at the RCPA's head office in Surry Hills, Sydney.

Registrations are open online.

Posted in Australian eHealth

You need to log in to post comments. If you don't have a Pulse+IT website account, click here to subscribe.

Sign up for Pulse+IT eNewsletters

Sign up for Pulse+IT website access

For more information, click here.