EPR systems vendor, ComMedica, this week claimed a UK “first” by announcing that it had incorporated SNOMED Clinical Terms (CT) into its PiRiLiS system.

The company, a spin out from Imperial College, London, says, “The integration will mean that ComMedica can offer an EPR environment in which the terminology for hundreds of thousands of clinical conditions and treatments has been standardised on a globally recognisable basis.”

The move is significant because the use of a common vocabulary is critical to the successful implementation of electronic record systems and because the NHS is moving rapidly towards the implementation of the American College of Pathologists’ SNOMED CT as a standard for the service.

The NHS Information Authority has recently completed a major overhaul of its website’s SNOMED CT section.

The site material outlines three strategic objectives in the implementation of SNOMED CT derived from Building the Information Core:
• By March 2003 – clinical information systems start to use SNOMED CT.
• After 1 April 2003 any computerised information system . . . should use the NHS preferred clinical terminology, SNOMED CT.

• Users/suppliers are advised not to develop new Read Code based systems from April 2003.

ComMedica’s chief executive, Mark Simon, said that clinical coding was central to effective application of information technology in healthcare. “We look forward to working with leading adopters of SNOMED CT in the coming months,” he said.

Diane J. Aschman, chief operating officer of SNOMED CT said, ”The vision for SNOMED CT is to facilitate medical communication that spans languages, clinical specialties and geographical borders. This agreement is a critical step in operationalising the NHS information strategy for health. Achieving a standardised terminology for healthcare improves the care of patients nopt only in the UK, but worldwide.”