SNOMED CT is a clinically validated, semantically rich, controlled terminology designed to enable effective representation of clinical information. SNOMED CT is widely recognized as the leading global clinical terminology for use in Electronic Health Records (EHRs). SNOMED CT enables the full benefits of EHRs to be achieved by supporting both clinical data capture, and the effective retrieval and reuse of clinical information.
The term 'analytics' is used to describe the discovery of meaningful information from healthcare data. Analytics may be used to describe, predict or improve clinical and business performance, and to recommend action or guide decision making.
1 Using SNOMED CT to support analytics services can enable a range of benefits, including:
SNOMED CT has a number of features, which makes it uniquely capable of supporting a range of powerful analytics functions. These features enable clinical records to be queried by:
SNOMED CT also enables:
Analytics tasks, which may be enabled or enhanced by the use of SNOMED CT techniques, can be considered in three broad categories:
While the use of SNOMED CT for analytics does not dictate a particular data architecture, there are a few key options to consider, including:
Practically all analytical processes are driven by database queries. To get the most benefit from using SNOMED CT in patient records, record-based queries and terminology-based queries must work together to perform integrated queries over SNOMED CT enabled data. To this end, SNOMED International is developing a consistent family of languages to support a variety of ways in which SNOMED CT is used. Clinical user interfaces can also be designed to harness the capabilities of SNOMED CT, and to make powerful clinical querying more accessible. Innovative data visualization and analysis tools are becoming more widespread as the capabilities of SNOMED CT content are increasingly utilized.
A number of challenges exist when performing analytics over clinical data, irrespective of the code system used. These include the reliability of patient data, terminology/information model boundary issues, concept definition issues and versioning. Many of these challenges, however, are able to be mitigated using the unique features of SNOMED CT.
A number of software vendors are now realizing the competitive advantage that using SNOMED CT can provide to unlock the analytics potential of clinical data. Several commercial tools are now available that support analytics using SNOMED CT, while others are following a roadmap of increasing functionality driven by SNOMED CT.
As the SNOMED CT encoding of healthcare data increases, so too have the benefits being realized from analytics processes performed over this data.
Wikipedia, Analytics, 2014, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Analytics.