Historical Perspectives


Updated November 26, 2008

November 12, 2003
Federal Advisory Panel Backs Use of SNOMED

An advisory panel of the Department of Health and Human Services has recommended the College’s Systematized Nomenclature of Medicine Clinical Terms (SNOMED CT) as the general core terminology to support the patient medical record information (PMRI).

The National Committee on Vital and Health Statistics (NCVHS) made its recommendation in one of two pending letters to HHS Secretary Tommy Thompson. The NCVHS approved the letters during its meeting in Washington this week.

In the other letter, the NCVHS recommended that federal health programs officially adopt ICD-10-CM and ICD-10-PCS as replacements for current uses of ICD-9-CM volumes 1, 2, and 3. If adopted, the ICD-10 codes would become the required standard under the administrative simplification provisions of the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA). The panel was careful to say its recommendation “would not affect the usage of other code sets under HIPAA, such as CPT-4 and Level II HCPCS (Healthcare Common Procedure Coding System).”

In the letter regarding PMRI terminology, the NCVHS said, “The breadth of content, sound terminology model, and widely recognized value of SNOMED CT qualify it as a general-purpose terminology for the exchange, aggregation, and analysis of patient medical information. The broad scope of SNOMED CT itself and the inclusion within it of concepts from other important healthcare terminologies (including the following terminologies developed to support nursing practice: HHCC, NANDA, NOC, NIC, Omaha System, and PNS) allow SNOMED CT to encompass much of the patient medical record information domain.”

Also as part of the core PMRI terminology, the NCVHS recommended usage of Logical Observation Identifiers Names and Codes (laboratory subset) and Federal Drug Terminologies.

On July 1, the College announced the signing of a $32.4 million, five-year sole source contract with the National Library of Medicine (NLM) to license English and Spanish language editions of SNOMED CT. The NLM is part of the National Institutes of Health within HHS. The agreement lays the terminology foundation for a health care information infrastructure that will help to improve the quality of care and ensure patient safety for years to come. It also highlights the leading role that the U.S. government can play in the support of health care delivery by making standards widely available.

SNOMED: Historical Perspectives

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