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  • Milena Fürst

Bringing SNOMED CT to Germany

Updated: Jan 19

One of the most important features of an information system for hospitals, as we at elmeas are developing, is an effective management of findings. Usually, that’s where the ICD-indices (International Statistical Classification of Diseases and Related Health Problems) come into play. But as helpful as this commonly used system may be, it often lacks the details which would be necessary to provide all relevant information to the clinicians.

This is why we decided to utilize a system which comprises much more in-depth and better structured medical information: SNOMED CT (Systematized Nomenclature of Medicine, Clinical Terms).

However, this decision brought a new challenge, since we are currently mainly developing for the German market and the comprehensive medical terminology of SNOMED is not yet available in German.

But we at elmeas are in the process of changing that. Almost one year ago, we started to work our way through thousands of concepts, translating them into German and, following the mindset of SNOMED, adding synonyms wherever applicable. Our translation initiative even led to a cooperation with the German Federal Institute for Drugs and Medical Devices (Bundesinstitut für Arzneimittel und Medizinprodukte, BfArM), to which we donated more than 15,000 translations related to 8,000 ophthalmological concepts in August last year.

And we keep going: With the findings for ophthalmology already integrated into our information system, we are currently translating the cardiovascular terminology set, with more to follow one by one - for well-structured data collection and a better management of medical data in the German health sector.

For me personally, translating this kind of medical terminology is a research-intense, sometimes frustrating (until you finally come across that one Google search result that eventually makes sense), but most of all exciting and purposeful task. In the last ten months, I have learned so much about medical conditions which I hope I will never get, it has brought discussions with my ophthalmologist to a whole new level. With every day that I’m working on these translations, it also reminds me of the fact that personal health is nothing we should take for granted, but something to be grateful for.

And it makes me glad that, with what I’m doing at elmeas, I can contribute to a software solution which aims to make the lives easier for those who are dedicated to our health: the clinicians and the hospital staff.


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