The Electronic Health Records (EHR) system is built upon the collection processes of programs such as SNOMED (Systematized Nomenclature of Medicine) and MEDCIN Engine. SNOMED began over 40 years ago through a merging of ideas between the College of American Pathologists and the UK’s National Health Service (NHS). MEDCIN was developed by Medicomp Systems, Inc. within the last quarter century, created through the valuable contributions of doctors, researchers, and information technologists.
The clinical data collected by both technology platforms is meant to provide useful and detailed medical information to physicians worldwide. The ability to easily access specialized medical data is the desired end-result. The EHR, with the help of programs like SNOMED and MEDCIN, is specifically designed to help physicians provide the best point-of-care services to their patients.
The knowledge gathered in the EHR is meant to be passed back through the system to other physicians, for references and as learning tools. SNOMED gathers the data for diseases, substances, clinical findings, and information on drugs and code the information in internationally usable computer terms. Some advocates of SNOMED consider that its performance as a multilingual health and medical database far exceeds other programs of its kind.
The MEDCIN engine was designed and built to be populated with an enormous medical vocabulary that provides easy processing of patient history, symptoms, tests and diagnoses, etc. Many Electronic Medical Records (EMR) systems use MEDCIN as their engine to facilitate ease-of-use for the physicians. MEDCIN provides the formats for numbered and structured patient charts, which in turn allows for efficient practice management tools.
This is one main difference between SNOMED and the MEDCIN engine. SNOMED was specifically created to classify and organize medical data, after it had been entered into the EHR system. MEDCIN is a powerful engine that was designed to be used as a point-of-care medical word bank, and it uses approximately 280,000 clinical data elements.
For the purpose of improvement the SNOMED system was restyled, in order to better it as a direct use program. The makers brought out a new version of SNOMED called SNOMED (R) CT. The SNOMED (R) CT (Clinical Terminology) is a combination of SNOMED and Read Codes.
The merging of the two programs has not really improved on the problems SNOMED has with its inadequate clinical terms. The original multi-axial terminology is still an issue for physicians unless they input their customized medical terms into the system. Otherwise, SNOMED lacks certain navigation finesse when it comes to finding and using the proper medical terms.
MEDCIN was built to specifically incorporate terms that have propositions that give more detailed options for clinical use. It has a single-axis system, which provides terminology through levels of meaning. MEDCIN’s engine uses Intelligent Prompting and navigation tools allowing physicians to use specific terms that they need rather than having to create new terms.
The fact that SNOMED and MEDCIN work together in such a cooperative way, for the greater good, is a good sign for better things to come in regards to EMR and EHR goals. Of course, they are two different companies and they work as such. They are both excellent systems, and they will hopefully keep ‘pushing the bar’ even higher, for everyone’s sake.