The Journal of AHIMA published an article co-authored by Michael Stearns, MD, CPC in its November 2014 edition. The link to the index for this edition of the Journal of AHIMA is provided here, however, full access to the article requires AHIMA membership.
The article highlights the differences between the two code sets/terminologies, based on their intended purposes. Several clinical examples are provided.
SNOMED CT was designed for use in clinical information systems but due to a number of factors it has not been readily adopted in the U.S. One of the key barriers to its adoption was the requirement that a subset of SNOMED CT must be included (for coding problem list diagnoses) for EHRs to be certified for Stage 2 Meaningful Use. This has led to a number of stakeholders integrating SNOMED CT into their information systems. However, SNOMED CT is large and fairly complicated in its structure and design. It was built using an artificial intelligence construct called Description Logics that allows the system to automatically infer relationships between concepts. This component of SNOMED CT has been chronically underutilized but has the potential to address a number of challenges in healthcare, including data integrity, segmentation (for privacy), metaanalysis, predictive modeling, clinical research, genomics and proteinomics, clinical decision support, analysis of business operations, and perhaps most importantly clinical research.
The article serves in part as an introduction to SNOMED CT. For additional information please see the SNOMED CT fundamentals page on this website. SNOMED CT has a great deal of untapped potential for clinical use, including semantic interoperability. In particular its ability to define concepts through the use of concept interrelationships. Of particular interest will be how fully ICD-11 adapts the principles of SNOMED CT and whether or not a migration from SNOMED CT to ICD-11 (or ICD-11-CM) will be seamless or complicated.
For reprint requests of the AHIMA article please contact Dr. Michael Stearns at firstname.lastname@example.org.