Environment Descriptors in SNOMED CT®


In this series of posts, I am assessing the SNOMED CT® terminology using the international browser. SNOMED CT® offers a description of environments both in terms of countries and in broader descriptions of types of environments.

Reflecting on this I can see that the country descriptors can be quite useful. For instance if people have visited another country or are visiting from another country this may play a role in the clinical history. In terms of the broader descriptions of types of environments I could see that describing healthcare settings is quite important.

With regards to other types of environments such as community settings these might be relevant in broadly describing the home environment of a patient (e.g urban versus rural). In a time pressured clinical environment, the challenge is for the clinician to record the essential information for care and it will be interesting to see whether in practice an address on the electronic patient record system will suffice or whether there will be a preference for adding this level of detail.

If this detail is coded then it allows for a more straightforward summary of population level data. This is in turn would be well suited to discussion around resource allocation. What becomes clearer to me on reflecting on this is that SNOMED CT® offers considerable flexibility and there are a lot of options for coding information. When information is coded it comes with a cost – the utilisation of time. At some level in the system there is a cost-benefit analysis in terms of resource allocation. It will be interesting to see how these calculations are applied in practice.

Appendix A – Other Posts in the Series on Health Information Exchanges

A Literature Review of 40 years of SNOMED

Arizona Statewide Health Information Exchange

A History of The Health Information Exchange in Pennsylvania

The Arkansas Health Information Exchange – SHARE

The California Health Information Exchange – Cal Index

Creating a Health Information Exchange in Arizona

Health Information Exchanges

Health Information Exchanges and Chronic Conditions

HIPPA and Health Information Exchanges


ICD-SNOMED-CT® Harmonisation

ICD-1 – Well…near enough











Körner Data and SNOMED: A Snapshot from 1988

Mapping ICD 9 (or 10) to SNOMED CT®

Over 1 Million Relationships: SNOMED CT ®

SNOMED CT® International Browser

SNOMED CT® Utilises the Brodmann Area Classification for Brain Regions

The Insular Cortex and SNOMED CT®

Administrative Statuses in SNOMED CT®

What’s a Kinkajou got to do with 21st Century Medical Terminology?

Standardisation of Health Information Technology in New Zealand

Statisticians were Responsible for the Development of an International Classification of Diseases

Why Do We Need Electronic Record Systems to Talk to Each Other

Appendix B – Definition of Health Information Exchange

This is the definition of the Health Information Exchange that I use (Hersh et al, 2015)

Health information exchange (HIE), the electronic sharing of clinical information across the boundaries of health care organizations

Index: There are indices for the TAWOP site here and here

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Responses: If you have any comments, you can leave them below or alternatively e-mail justinmarley17@yahoo.co.uk.

Disclaimer: The comments made here represent the opinions of the author and do not represent the profession or any body/organisation. The comments made here are not meant as a source of medical advice and those seeking medical advice are advised to consult with their own doctor. The author is not responsible for the contents of any external sites that are linked to in this blog.

Conflicts of Interest: *For potential conflicts of interest please see the About section.

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