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Nutrition Informatics Blog

Harmonization of Terminologies

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We have stated in the past that work pertaining to the adoption and use of electronic health records is moving at warp speed.  That trend continues.  Today, there was a short, thirty minute call which served to bring together all the “other” health care terminologies into discussion via the Standards & Interoperability Framework, (S&I ) an initiative of the Office of the National Coordinator of Health IT.  The purpose of this collaborative is to allow the subject matter experts in multiple areas of health care—most notably in ancillary care-- to converge, discuss and hopefully harmonize the vocabularies into ones that make sense across all disciplines.  The S&I Framework set the stage for a general data element set which supports care; an interested group of ancillary providers (including ADA) are forming a small sub group to ensure that ancillary terminology is harmonized.

At present the vocabulary identified as the choice for use in most clinical definitions of care is SNOMED-CT.  SNOMED-CT stands for the “Systematized Nomenclature of Medicine—Clinical Terms.”  SNOMED is a comprehensive vocabulary of clinical terms which is owned and maintained by the IHTSDO (International Health Terminology Standards Development Organization), a non-profit located in Denmark.  The National Library of Medicine, as a member of IHTSDO, distributes the SNOMED-CT at no cost to health care groups and individuals in the U.S.

I am not an expert in clinical terms, but luckily ADA has multiple people on staff and as member volunteers who are willing to jump into the complicated hierarchy of health care terminologies and standards. Look for future blogs on how the International Dietetics and Nutrition Terminology and SNOMED-CT are and will be used for clinical care.

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