Updated Novenber 26, 2008
New “international face” for SNOMED terminology
It wasn’t exactly television’s globe-spanning reality show “The Amazing Race.” But for Kevin Donnelly, vice president and general manager of the CAP’s newly formed SNOMED Terminology Solutions division, and Martin Severs, MB, FRCP, FFPHM, chair of the United Kingdom’s National Health Service Information Standards Board and associate dean of clinical practice at the University of Portsmouth, it probably felt like it. “We truly did go around the world,” Donnelly says.
Pilot points way to speedier cancer surveillance
Building a timely, more accurate national cancer surveillance system requires you to think big and then beat the devil in the details to make it happen.
A pilot project now winding up in Ohio and California and funded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Program of Cancer Registries aims to do both. The project’s ultimate vision is a real-time, standardized way for pathologists to report cancer cases to cancer registries using a computerized program that incorporates the CAP’s cancer checklists. The checklists are encoded with concepts from the CAP’s Systematized Nomenclature of Medicine Clinical Terms, or SNOMED CT, which provides a common language for capturing, sharing, and aggregating health data.
Merging terminologies for a new mother tongue
Three years of effort by the CAP and the U.K. National Health Service have culminated in the first release of SNOMED CT, the long-awaited merging of two highly regarded clinical reference terminologies. By incorporating the National Health Service's acclaimed Read Codes, SNOMED CT has expanded into such areas as primary care, nursing, and specialty medicine.
Helping clinicians cope with CPOE systems
Laboratory information system vendors know well the patient safety benefits of computerization, and they’re laboring to bring the insights of the LIS world to the creation of CPOE, or computerized physician order entry. Mention patient safety and physician ordering to most LIS vendors and you will almost certainly hear the word “alerts” in their replies. Neither alerts nor the technology underlying them are new. The ability to generate alerts, especially those based on the operation of a rules engine and a clinical database, is a proven technology in the LIS world. Nonetheless, the technology, like most, is still a work in progress and is in many ways as much art as science.
CDC Taps SNOMED for Cancer Surveillance
“This is a very strategically important thing to happen,” notes M. Elizabeth Hammond, MD, chair of the CAP Cancer Committee and head of pathology at LDS Hospital/Intermountain Healthcare, Salt Lake City. “This will allow us to collect [cancer] data from diverse locations,” she says. “In our health care system, we treat cancer patients at six major sites. Using coded data, we can compare our cases and improve our treatment practices by learning from each other.”
The LOINC-SNOMED Connection
Generally regarded as complementary, LOINC (Logical Observations, Names and Codes) and SNOMED are “enabling technologies” with deep roots in laboratory medicine that are meant to facilitate the process of gathering, aggregating, and analyzing data.
A Giant Leap for Medical Terminology
It is “one of the biggest things the CAP has ever done,” says John Neff, MD, “one that puts the College right in the middle of one of the most dynamic developments in worldwide medicine.” Dr. Neff is chair of the SNOMED Authority, as well as chair of the Department of Pathology at the University of Tennessee Medical Center, Knoxville.
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The Issue of Upgrading
If you’re using SNOMED II and wondering whether you should upgrade
to SNOMED RT, the answer is yes. Consider, for example, the decade
that elapsed between the release of SNOMED II and the current release
of SNOMED v 3.5. In that period, the field of medicine changed significantly.