Friday, February 6, 2009

European "SemanticHEALTH Report" calls for SNOMED CT reform

In a report (warning: pdf) for the European Commission's ICT for Health organization, the SemanticHEALTH project recommends:
Demonstration of a semantically sound and well quality assured reformulation of one or more suitable subsets of SNOMED CT, in order to provide evidence for long term decisions on the role of SNOMED CT in Europe.

The report criticizes SNOMED CT, saying:
For the time being we must therefore state that SNOMED CT is only fit for purpose as a controlled vocabulary and system of managed identifiers, but it can not yet safely be used as a source of semantics...

Per the International Health Terminology Standards Development Organization (IHTSDO), which owns and maintains SNOMED CT:
The focus is on enabling the implementation of semantically accurate health records that are interoperable.

If the report's criticism is true (and we believe it is), then SNOMED CT is not fit for its primary purpose.