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Many clinical applications include facilities for data entry to be controlled or assisted by protocols, templates or structured data entry forms. Different sets of candidate terms or concepts may be appropriate to each data entry field. The sets of candidate terms or concepts for a field may be very large (e.g. any operative procedure) or very small (e.g. the possible observations from a particular examination).

Reference sets can be used to restrict the available options to match the requirements of a particular data entry protocol. Reference Sets provided by the author of the protocol can be applied to particular fields on a screen or particular data entry steps to configure relevant searches.

A SNOMED CT enabled application should be able to dynamically select a particular configuration based on identification of the data entry step or context. It should then be able to apply the relevant Reference Sets to provide an appropriate set of data entry options and/or to constrain text searches.