The challenge: Adopting the international standard for healthcare data

Electronic management of health information promises safer, more efficient and better quality healthcare.

However, different health records often use various terms to describe the same medical concept. This creates a major stumbling block when it comes to integrating this data electronically.

Australia has joined many other nations in adopting the international standard for clinical terminology (known as SNOMED CT) to be used in the collection, management and sharing of health and health related data.

Our response: A solution for smooth data integration

To overcome data integration issues and translate existing records into the same standard terminology format, we have been developing a new software platform through the Australian E-health Research Centre.

Called Snapper, the software describes the meaning of clinical terms used by the international standards, allowing existing data to be treated as if it had been originally collected and entered using the same concept.

It also extends the international standards to cover specialist and local terminology.

Snapper is now also being extended to support encoding of medication strength and quantity information, thanks to the release of national terminology standards (Australian Medicines Terminology version 3).

The results: Sharing data more efficiently

Snapper helps medical professionals work together in developing shared healthcare terminology.

It ensures better data is captured, reducing communication errors that lead to otherwise avoidable mistakes. It increases efficiencies and also enables better health outcomes.

Our related technology, Snorocket, has already been included in the International Health Terminology Standards Development Organisation (IHTSDO) software toolkit for classifying medical information.

Snorocket is used by Australia’s National E-Health Transition Authority to produce each release of their international and national terminology standards.

It is currently used by several state health departments, as well as small and medium-sized businesses in Australia.

This work won the e-health category of the 2012 Queensland iAwards.


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