A standard clinical terminology is essential for the interoperability of electronic health records across care settings.
As we move to more integrated care records with information following patients, it is important that information is consistent and transferable within and across all the healthcare settings where a patient may be treated; the use of coded information supports recording in a consistent and transferrable way.
In healthcare, the requirements for coding are extensive. SNOMED CT provides a comprehensive set of such clinical phrases or terms, this is called a terminology. SNOMED CT is much more than just a set of clinical phrases, for example it also includes groups with relationships between terms.
SNOMED CT has been selected and approved as the terminology to be adopted by the NHS in England. It is the most comprehensive international terminology currently available and can be used across all care settings and all clinical domains.
SNOMED CT stands for the 'Systematized Nomenclature of Medicine Clinical Terms', and consists of comprehensive scientifically validated content. SNOMED CT is available in more than fifty countries and has been adopted as the standard clinical terminology for the NHS in England.
When implemented in software, SNOMED CT represents clinically relevant information consistently, reliably and comprehensively as an integral part of the electronic health record.
SNOMED CT is managed and maintained internationally by the International Health Terminology Standards Development Organisation (IHTSDO) and in the UK by the UK Terminology Centre (UKTC).
National and International arrangements have been established to ensure there is adequate and relevant governance of SNOMED CT, to ensure it meets the needs of healthcare in the respective jurisdictions (see Governance).
SNOMED CT is now being used in a number of systems for recording of clinical information within patient records. With this evidence the Information Standards Board for Health and Social Care has now approved SNOMED CT as a Full Fundamental Information Standard for clinical terminology.