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SNOMED CT: Canada in action

Infoway’s purpose is to realize the vision of healthier Canadians through innovative digital health solutions. With our partners, we shape the strategic direction for digital health in Canada and support the use of use of standards such as SNOMED CT. SNOMED CT® is the largest and most comprehensive medical terminology in the world. It enables patient clinical information to be collected once and shared (in context) many times across multiple systems and applications. The International release of SNOMED CT contains content that is globally relevant, owned and maintained by SNOMED International. The SNOMED CT Canadian Edition includes concepts that are specific to use in Canada, and is maintained by Canada Health Infoway.

SNOMED CT has been implemented in various digital health projects and solutions around the country. These implementations are responsible for enabling some of the following:

  • the sharing of diagnostic images and reports, anywhere, any place and at any time in Ontario, and
  • the ability to carry your vaccination records on your personal mobile device and receive automated reminders as to when it is time to vaccinate via consumer applications such as CAN Immunize

InfoCentral, Infoway’s collaboration platform hosts the Canadian SNOMED CT virtual community of interest. This community is open to all and currently represents nearly two hundred clinical and digital health professionals and continues to grow. Within the community, members share Canadian knowledge and expertise and best practices through informative presentations, active forum discussions and questions, which demonstrate the interest, scope and spread of SNOMED CT in Canada.

Recent highlights of knowledge sharing from this community include:

  • Nova Scotia’s initiative to increase the accuracy of patient diagnosis and increase the overall quality of the patient care data being captured in the province. As part of this work, the Nova Scotia Department of Health and Wellness implemented ~34 clinical specialty subsets using SNOMED CT in a variety of domains from anaesthesia and cardiology to genetics and paediatrics.
  • Dr. Scott Campbell of the University of Nebraska Medical Centre demonstrated the international importance of standardized cancer pathology reporting that has been implemented in BC, ON, PEI, NB, MB, NS in partnership with organizations such as Cancer Care Ontario and the Canadian Partnership Against Cancer. The information collected in these standardized pathology reports is used to inform cancer staging, the patients care plan and cancer treatment options.
  • Alberta expanded SNOMED CT educational offering by engaging Dr. Peter Hendler of SNOMED International to demonstrate the power and clinical benefit of SNOMED CT to numerous clinicians. These participants have become SNOMED CT “champions” to help spread the growth and adoption of SNOMED CT in AB.
  • A Newfoundland update on their work to capture all immunizations administered in the province in relation to controlling communicable diseases. This work leveraged the SNOMED CT vaccine subsets already adopted by numerous provinces across Canada, the Public Health Agency of Canada and the consumer application CAN Immunize.

SNOMED CT is available via InfoCentral, along with a suite of tools that enable the browsing, mapping and the ability to improve the content of SNOMED CT.

Each new release of SNOMED CT is accompanied by an educational webinar highlighting new content and relevance to Canadian implementers. Webinars, hosted by the SNOMED CT community are open to all.

As expressed by Don Sweete, CEO of SNOMED International, in his spotlight SNOMED International - Global Approach to Healthcare and Standards, “the development of a global language for health, enabling clinicians, organizations and systems to communicate and understand one another is not the job of just one or two organizations or companies, it is an international endeavor”.

Given the wealth of discussion, engagement and sharing, the InfoCentral SNOMED CT community offers empirical evidence demonstrating how Canadian SNOMED CT implementations are actively contributing to digital health and better patient outcomes in Canada. To learn more and/or get engaged, please join us in the SNOMED CT community .


Andrea MacLean, B.Sc., MLT. Director, Interoperability Standards, Canada Health Infoway

Andrea is responsible for Infoway’s National Release Centre for the pan-Canadian Standards: SNOMED CT, pan-Canadian LOINC Observation Code Database (pCLOCD) and HL7. Andrea has more than 20 years of Health Care IT implementation experience and has worked extensively with implementing clinical content standards and standardized, encoded synoptic reports in Cancer Pathology.

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