Have you ever heard of SNOMED?

SNOMED International Logo

Have you ever heard of SNOMED?

SNOMED CT – Coming to an FP17 Near You

SNOMED CT is, to simplify things, a system for coding medical conditions and treatments. It’s created by an international agency and is being rapidly adopted by governments across the ‘Western World’ to help standardise medical terminology.

The name SNOMED is derived from Systemised NOmenclature of MEDicine, and the CT extension from Clinical Terminology. The project began in 1965 to standardise terminology for pathology and has developed and expanded through the years.

SNOMED International LogoThe organisation behind it – SNOMED International – was established as the International Health Terminology Standards Development Organisation in 2007. The nine founding charter Members were the governments of Australia, Canada, Denmark, Lithuania, Sweden, the Netherlands, New Zealand, the United Kingdom and the United States.

As the UK government is backing the standard, NHS Digital and Public Health England are currently planning a roll-out. One of the intentions is to help provide a better analysis of public health and epidemiology, and better track the spread and geographic distribution of health issues. Ultimately, this should lead to better healthcare and improved public health.

SNOMED and Dentistry

For some while, UK dentists have had their own standard terminology and reporting methods for patient notes, and for claiming UDAs and reporting treatments to the NHS through the FP17 form. However, to produce a unified system across all medical specialisms, the NHS and Public Health England want to replace this coding system with SNOMED.

A picture from the ADA website - developers of SNODENT

The American Dentistry Association is developing SNODENT – a subset of SNOMED CT for dentistry

In the United States of America, the American Dental Association (ADA) is developing a dental-specific subset of the system, imaginatively called SNODENT.

They define it thus;  “The Systematized Nomenclature of Dentistry (SNODENT) is an official subset of SNOMED CT, a vocabulary designed for use with electronic health and dental records.” Its intended purpose is to:

  • Provide standardized terms for describing dental disease
  • Capture clinical detail and patient characteristics
  • Permit analysis of patient care services and outcomes
  • To be interoperable with Electronic Health Records (EHR) and Electronic Dental Records (EDR)

So what?

NHS Digital and Public Health England have not yet (at time of writing) precisely defined the ‘what’. However, their direction of travel suggests that at some point we will have a new standard way to describe and encode all dental treatments. This code will be compatible with the pilot projects currently being implemented by the NHS and various international organisations (such as the International Olympic Committee).

It is also fairly clear that all dentists working with NHS patients will need a computerised practice management system and information reporting system. It’s not yet clear if this requirement will also be placed on private dentists. These systems will need to implement SNOMED CT, SNODENT or some other subset.

What do you need to do?

Nothing yet. However, it’s probably a good idea to talk to your practice management software supplier about SNOMED. And if you haven’t already implemented a computer-based practice management software system, it’s probably time to choose one of the latest generation systems available so that it is well established in your practice before SNOMED is implemented.

Members of the UK Dental Software Suppliers Association (of which Pearl is a prominent member) are already in discussions with the NHS and other related health organisations. An aggressive timetable has already been suggested, and we fully expect the first pilot systems to be available to start testing in the next year or so.

If you are an existing customer, we recommend migrating to the latest version of Pearl Dental Software.

What does Pearl need to do?

At a detailed level, we won’t know the full scope of the project until the final specification and timeline are confirmed. However, the system architecture of the latest Pearl Dental Software is already capable of supporting the new terminology descriptions, definitions and encoding. We are fully committed to the project and actively participating in the discussion as an active part of the UK Dental Software Suppliers Association.

We will be publishing further articles about SNOMED in this blog, on our social media channels, and in our newsletter. If there is a demand we will also organise briefings and webinars. So, if you would like to know more, please email us with your questions.

Ben Baker – MD of BHA Software Ltd

More information on Pearl

If you would like to know more about Pearl Dental Software, how we compare with our competitors, or how to upgrade from Pearl Plus, please email us or call us on 0116 275 9995.

Full contact details can be found here: www.pearldentalsoftware.com/contact/

Ben Baker