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Page At A Glance

1 Introduction

The SNOMED CT International General/Family Practice Reasons for Encounter and/or Health Issues reference set (hereafter called the GP/FP Subset) was developed between 2010 and 2013 by the GP/FP Subset and ICPC mapping project group. This project ended on December 31, 2013 after field-testing of the products was completed. Previous releases have been accompanied by a map from the subset to ICPC-2, but a review was started in late 2017 about usage of this product and outreach to the user community.  Members, vendors and Wonca have indicated that this product is not used in electronic systems.  Bearing this in mind, and the fact that ICPC-3 is in development meaning that ICPC-2 is no longer being updated, a decision was taken jointly with Wonca to deprecate the map.  This July 2019 version will, therefore, be the first GP/FP release to not include active map records for ICPC-2.

2. Background

In December 2009 a harmonization agreement was finalized between SNOMED International and the World organisation of Family Doctors (Wonca) to promote co-operation and collaboration between the two organisations. 

This agreement led to the formation of the International Family Physician/General Practitioner Special Interest Group (IFP/GP SIG) under the auspices of SNOMED International. The IFP/GP SIG was established to suggest content for the Systematized Nomenclature of Medicine – Clinical Terms (SNOMED CT®) related to general/family practice and to provide quality assurance for SNOMED CT content from the general/family practice perspective. SNOMED International's existing Primary Care Special Interest Group was converted to the IFP/GP SIG after the agreement was signed. 

The subsets were first released as a candidate baseline in April 2014. Changes to the structure of the subsets were made following feedback from this release.   

3 Release content

3.1 Changes to the July 2019 release GP/FP subset

As a result of changes to the July 2019 release of SNOMED CT, 33 concepts were inactivated. The following table lists those concepts that were inactivated in the July 2019 release hence removed from the refset.

Some target replacements were in the Refset and some were net new to the Refset but not necessarily new to SNOMED CT.  See Column E for details. 

When a concept is inactivated as Ambiguous, more than one concept may be selected as replacement therefore not a 1:1 match between inactivated and replaced. There were 19 net new concepts added to the refset as replacements. 

Inactive SCTIDInactive FSNReplacement SCT IDReplacement FSNColumn E
119853006Breast implantation237406004Plastic operation on the breastExisting refset member
161929000Chesty cough28743005Productive coughExisting refset member
187014000Candidiasis of skin and nails187017007Candidal paronychiaNew refset member
19155002Dysfunctional uterine bleeding44991000119100Abnormal uterine bleedingNew refset member
195445008Varicose veins of the leg with ulcer304930004Varicose veins of lower extremity with ulcerNew refset member
208754006Closed traumatic dislocation of shoulder125614009Closed traumatic dislocation of glenohumeral jointNew refset member
217673009Toxic reaction to wasp sting7456000Poisoning by wasp stingNew refset member
236633002Bladder muscle dysfunction - overactive786457000Overactive bladderNew refset member
238793001Ischaemic leg ulcer95344007Ulcer of lower extremityNew refset member
25825004Haemorrhage in early pregnancy106004004Haemorrhagic complication of pregnancyExisting refset member
266151007Dermatophytosis of the body84849002Tinea corporisExisting refset member
267425008Lactose intolerance785696007Malabsorption syndrome due to intolerance to lactoseNew refset member
267440005Monoclonal paraproteinemia109983007Monoclonal gammopathy (clinical)New refset member
269137006Sprain of knee and leg54888009Sprain of kneeExisting refset member
269137006Sprain of knee and leg281599007Sprain of ligament of lower limbNew refset member
269166009Broken tooth injury36202009Fracture of toothNew refset member
270911002Superficial bruising125587004Superficial injuryExisting refset member
270911002Superficial bruising125667009ContusionExisting refset member
270911002Superficial bruising385494008HematomaExisting refset member
275111003FH: Ovarian carcinoma430705002Family history of malignant neoplasm of ovaryNew refset member
275499005Acute wheezy bronchitis785745000Acute bronchitis co-occurrent with wheezeNew refset member
278053004Intraductal carcinoma of breast109889007Intraductal carcinoma in situ of breastNew refset member
314109004Feeling tired224960004TiredExisting refset member
371032004Stasis ulcer402863005Venous stasis ulcer of legExisting refset member
404022001Neurilemmoma189948006SchwannomaNew refset member
422608009Sexual assault248110007Sexual assaultNew refset member
441932009Strain of muscle and/or tendon of hand


Strain of tendon of hand

New refset member
441932009Strain of muscle and/or tendon of hand716102003Hand muscle strainNew refset member
44462005Osteitis274144001OsteitisNew refset member
45198002Mastitis266579006Inflammatory disorder of breastNew refset member
46176001Chondritis363173007Inflammatory disorder of cartilageNew refset member
49351009Diastematomyelia445308004Split cord malformationExisting refset member
61033006Detrusor instability of bladder786496006Idiopathic detrusor overactivityNew refset member
82675004Synovial cyst of popliteal space240008008Synovial cyst of kneeExisting refset member
84299009Neuritis21018002Inflammatory neuropathyNew refset member
85407005Pigeon-fanciers' disease69339004Bird-fanciers' lungNew refset member
86735004Erythematous condition399992009ErythrodermaNew refset member

3.2 Overview of the GP/FP subset

The GP/FP subset contains SNOMED CT concepts relating to two semantic data types commonly used in general/family practice electronic health records:

  • Reasons For Encounter (RFEs)
  • Health Issues

A reason for encounter was defined as:

"An agreed statement of the reason(s) why a person enters the health care system, representing the demand for care by that person. The terms written down and later classified by the provider clarify the reason for encounter and consequently the patient's demand for care without interpreting it in the form of a diagnosis. The reason for encounter should be recognized by the patient as an acceptable description of the demand for care" (WONCA Dictionary of General/Family Practice, 2003). 

A health issue was defined as:

"An Issue related to the health of a subject of care, as identified or stated by a specific health care party". This is further defined in the notes as "according to this definition, a health issue can correspond to a health problem, a disease, an illness" (Health Informatics – System of concepts to support continuity of care – Part 1: basic concepts (CEN/ISO FDIS 13940-1)). 

These definitions were used to define the scope of the GP/FP subset. The subset contains SNOMED CT concepts that represent terms commonly used to populate these semantic data types. 
The content of the subset covers the following:

    • Symptoms and signs
    • Disorders and diseases
    • Results
    • Family history
    • Allergies
    • Adverse drug reactions
    • Processes and procedures
    • Social history

Details on the development of the subset are available on request from

4 General information about the GP/FP subset

Subsets act as the extensibility mechanism in SNOMED CT, allowing developers and users to customize SNOMED CT content to meet specific use cases. 

Content for the general/family practice subset was initially provided by the SNOMED International's General/Family Practice and ICPC-2 mapping project group. It is designed for use in general/family practice clinical settings within electronic health records (EHRs). It is intended for use as the 'core' subset for two commonly used data fields — reasons for encounter and health issues. 

4.1 Purpose of the GP/FP subset

To provide a subset of frequently used SNOMED CT concepts for use in general/family practice EHRs within the following data fields:

  • Reason for encounter
  • Health issue

4.2 Some example use cases of the GP/FP subset

4.2.1 Data entry – direct entry of SNOMED CT concepts from the GP/FP subset

During an encounter in his/her general/family practice, a GP/FP sees a patient who has presented with a newly identified health issue. The GP/FP enters the new health issue into the data field for 'health issue', and into a problem list (if appropriate) in his/her EHR using the GP/FP subset that has been incorporated in his/her EHR by the EHR software vendor. The GP/FP is presented with a validated list of potential terms from the subset, from which he/she selects the SNOMED CT concept that best represents the patient's health issue.

4.2.2 Electronic transfer of care (referrals, admissions, handovers, discharge)

A GP/FP wishes to transfer the care of a patient to a medical specialist for further investigation. The GP/FP's EHR contains the SNOMED CT GP/FP subset, and the GP/FP has entered all the patient's health issues into the EHR using the subset. An HL7 referral message is then constructed; containing SNOMED CT coded concepts from the patient's problem list. The message is sent electronically to the specialist who populates his/her EHR using the data contained in the message. This reduces the time needed to take a patient history and enter this data into the specialist's EHR.

4.2.3 Constraint of terminology use for population and sub-population analysis

A group of GPs are interested in comparing aspects of care across populations of GPs and their patients. The adoption of a subset will, to an extent, constrain the variability of coding of similar issues, conditions and situations that may confound data analysis where very large terminologies such as SNOMED CT are used without constraint.

4.3 Obtaining the GP/FP subset

Access within SNOMED International member countries is provided by the Member National Release Centre in each country, via the relevant Member page. Affiliates of SNOMED International in non-member countries can access the table through their Member Licensing and Distribution Service (MLDS) account. Please contact for more information if required. 

4.4 Benefits of the subset

SNOMED CT is regarded as the leading global clinical terminology for use in EHRs. The GP/FP subset utilises the power of SNOMED CT by refining the subset to a list of concepts specific to those commonly used in General/Family practice. In this way assuring and enabling a SNOMED CT encoded system for recording aspects of the clinical record. This increases the usefulness of SNOMED CT for GPs/FPs because searches are targeted to the SNOMED CT concepts that GPs/FPs use most often, and, if implemented properly, users should be able to search and select a SNOMED CT concept quickly and easily. 

As stated in Section 4.5, the SNOMED CT GP/FP subset will be maintained and distributed after (and in line with) each release of the SNOMED CT International Release. 

4.5 Characteristics of the GP/FP subset

The GP/FP Subset contains the following characteristics:

  • Only concepts with a status of 'current' (status = 0) have been included, ensuring that the only concepts included are active and able to be used for data entry.
  • The Reason for encounter and Health issue subsets have been combined into one subset.
  • A series of principles for the development of the GP/FP subset were created during the development phase of the project. These principles are documented in the SNOMED CT GP/FP subset and ICPC mapping project: Phase 2 project report.

  • The GP/FP subset will be released using Release Format 2 (RF2) See Section 5.1 of the Technical Implementation Guide for further information about SNOMED CT release formats and RF2.

4.6 SNOMED CT target content

The GP/FP subset only contains SNOMED CT content from the following hierarchies:

    • Clinical finding
    • Event
    • Procedure
    • Situation with explicit context.

4.7 Known issues in the GP/FP subset

The GP/FP subset was developed using a 'bottom-up' approach, based on the terms frequently used in general/family practice to describe reasons for encounter and health issues. As a result, it does not contain all the SNOMED CT concepts that could be used to populate the reasons for encounter or health issue data fields in electronic health records. The IFP/GP Clinical Reference Group will add to the content of the subset over time, but it is not intended that the subset will contain all SNOMED CT concepts that could be used to populate these data fields. 

5 Implementation of the GP/FP Subset 

5.1 Implementation overview

  • There are a variety of ways in which the GP/FP subset can be implemented, and it would be impossible to outline each possible scenario in this report.
  • Vendors are encouraged to contact members of the IFP/GP Clinical reference Group to discuss specific implementation scenarios at
  • Background about the creation and maintenance of subsets can be found in Section 7.9 of the SNOMED CT Technical Implementation Guide, and Section 7.6.3 discusses the application of Subsets
  • The subset should be implemented in SNOMED CT enabled systems in order to access both additional content and also enable the power of SNOMED CT for retrieval and use of the information stored in systems. 

5.2 Implementation levels

The SNOMED CT Technical Implementation Guide describes three implementation levels for some aspects of SNOMED CT deployment. The three levels represent incremental capabilities for implementation broken down into specific dimensions including scope of use, record structure, expression storage, data entry, data retrieval and communication. Guidance provided in this section of the Technical Implementation Guide is also applicable to implementation of the GP/FP subset. 
It must be noted that the GP/FP subset does not inherently contain structures or content to support the implementation of post-coordinated expressions, as required for the highest implementation level within some dimensions. The decision to implement post-coordinated expressions must be made at the local level, with implementers choosing to allow users to created post-coordinated expressions in conjunction with use of the GP/FP subset. 

5.3 The user interface

Section 7.6 of the SNOMED CT Technical Implementation Guide provides recommendations and information for vendors about creating a user interface facilitating access to SNOMED CT concepts. 

5.4 Use of a secondary search mechanism

The GP/FP Subset contains concepts that are commonly used by GPs/FPs on an international basis, restricting the SNOMED CT concepts available to GPs/FPs to those concepts they are likely to use frequently. However, rare conditions are managed in general/family practice, and GPs/FPs may occasionally need to access a wider source of SNOMED CT concepts to populate their reasons for encounter or health issues.
For this reason, when implementing the GP/FP Subset implementers are strongly encouraged to implement a two-stage search mechanism, where users search for concepts in the GP/FP Subset in the first instance. Then, if a suitable concept cannot be found in the GP/FP Subset, a 'secondary search' is activated, allowing the search to be repeated using a broader set of relevant SNOMED CT concepts.

6 Effective Date and Maintenance

6.1 Effective date

The subset is aligned to the July 2019 SNOMED CT International Release.  The effectiveTime for the content has therefore been set to 20190731 (31st July 2019). 

6.2 Maintenance of the subset and ICPC-2 map

The ICPC-2 map files have been deprecated as part of the GP/FP release package from the July 2019 publication onwards, as publicised in the January 2019 GP/FP Release Notes.

7 Technical Notes

RF2 package format

The RF2 package convention dictates that it contains all relevant files, regardless of whether or not there is content to be included in each particular release.  Therefore, the package contains a mixture of files which contain both header rows and content data, and also files that are intentionally left blank (including only a header record).  The reason that these files are not removed from the package is to draw a clear distinction between:

  1. ...files that have been deprecated (and therefore removed from the package completely), due to the content no longer being relevant to RF2 in this or future releases, and 
  2. ...files that just happen to contain no data in this particular release (and are therefore included in the package but left blank, with only a header record), but are still relevant to RF2, and could therefore potentially contain data in future releases.

This allows users to easily distinguish between files that have purposefully been removed or not, as otherwise if files in option 2 above were left out of the package it could be interpreted as an error, rather than an intentional lack of content in that release.

RF2 package file naming convention

The file package naming convention has been updated to remove the references to the now inactivated ICPC-2 map records.  The GP/FP packages from this point onwards will now follow the following naming convention:

  • SnomedCT_GPFP_PRODUCTION_[date/time].zip

RF2 deprecation process

The standard RF2 convention of inactivating deprecated content wherever possible (as opposed to deleting it from the files altogether) has been followed. 

The result is that all ICPC-2 records in the GPFP ExtendedMap Delta and Snapshot files have been inactivated (set to active status = 0).  The Full file still contains the entire historical audit trail and therefore looks as though it still contains active records, but these are historical records only.  All 20190731 records (that were previously active in the January 2019 GP/FP release) are now set to active status = 0.


Final Version






Monica HarryApproved


Jane MillarApproved

Download .pdf here:

Draft Amendment History







Andrew AtkinsonInitial version


Monica HarryContent details added


Jane MillarFinal updates for ICPC-2 deprecation

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