By Brian Laberge, Health Language
EMR and other healthcare software applications must maintain dropdown lists of codes, which are regularly updated by the standard bodies. As a software vendor you need to ensure that you are monitoring for updates, analyzing each update to determine what actually changed, and then incorporating the updates and shipping updated code to all of your customers. In this blog, I discuss the challenge of managing codes and dropdown lists on your own, as opposed to using a terminology management solution to manage these frequent updates for you.
Certain dropdown lists are easy to maintain on your own, such as lists of US states, for example. Most people are familiar with filling out an online form on which you enter an address, state, and zip code: one of the fields on that form usually has a list of states to choose from. State data is easy to maintain as of course the list of states rarely changes. Static data like this is typically manageable on your own.
In your application, however, you will likely find that you need a list of entries that do not comprise industry-standard values, such as geographic data. An example of this would be a dropdown that contains “regions.” Most likely your clients do not all serve the same region, or their breakdown of regions is different than the default standard set of values. Part of this challenge is that customers can update default values, as well as add their own values. And you wouldn’t want one customer seeing another customer’s set of values for this field. This scenario also introduces more complexity when you need to add or change one of the default regions that ship with the product. You must make sure a customer hasn’t already changed or deleted one of the regions that you are about to update.