Construction of an interface terminology on SNOMED CT. Generic approach and its application in intensive care

Methods Inf Med. 2010;49(4):349-59. doi: 10.3414/ME09-01-0057. Epub 2010 Jun 22.


Objective: To provide a generic approach for developing a domain-specific interface terminology on SNOMED CT and to apply this approach to the domain of intensive care.

Methods: The process of developing an interface terminology on SNOMED CT can be regarded as six sequential phases: domain analysis, mapping from the domain concepts to SNOMED CT concepts, creating the SNOMED CT subset guided by the mapping, extending the subset with non-covered concepts, constraining the subset by removing irrelevant content, and deploying the subset in a terminology server.

Results: The APACHE IV classification, a standard in the intensive care with 445 diagnostic categories, served as the starting point for designing the interface terminology. The majority (89.2%) of the diagnostic categories from APACHE IV could be mapped to SNOMED CT concepts and for the remaining concepts a partial match was identified. The resulting initial set of mapped concepts consisted of 404 SNOMED CT concepts. This set could be extended to 83,125 concepts if all taxonomic children of these concepts were included. Also including all concepts that are referred to in the definition of other concepts lead to a subset of 233,782 concepts. An evaluation of the interface terminology should reveal what level of detail in the subset is suitable for the intensive care domain and whether parts need further constraining. In the final phase, the interface terminology is implemented in the intensive care in a locally developed terminology server to collect the reasons for intensive care admission.

Conclusions: We provide a structure for the process of identifying a domain-specific interface terminology on SNOMED CT. We use this approach to design an interface terminology on SNOMED CT for the intensive care domain. This work is of value for other researchers who intend to build a domain-specific interface terminology on SNOMED CT.

MeSH terms

  • Algorithms
  • Artificial Intelligence
  • Classification
  • Concept Formation
  • Hospitalization
  • Humans
  • Intensive Care Units*
  • Medical Records Systems, Computerized*
  • Natural Language Processing*
  • Systematized Nomenclature of Medicine*
  • Terminology as Topic*