IPU contributes to International Healthcare Terminology Database

  • SNOMED CT is used in over 80 countries and facilitates clinicians and other healthcare professionals to record patient data more accurately and comprehensively
  • IPU contribution will launch in July

16 July: The Irish Pharmacy Union (IPU) has made a major contribution to the leading international (database of) healthcare terminology by identifying a series of concepts that are not currently included in SNOMED CT. SNOMED CT is a language for health terminology that is recognised as the most comprehensive set of healthcare terms in the world. It facilitates clinicians and other healthcare professionals to record patient data more accurately and comprehensively, as it provides a standardised set of clinical terms for use across more than 80 countries.

After establishing a close working relationship with the Irish SNOMED National Release Centre (NRC), the IPU’s Product File Department identified a series of concepts that are not currently included in SNOMED CT, and these will now be coded and launched as part of SNOMED’s July update.

IPU Product File Manager Fiona Hannigan says, “Having common healthcare terminology allows for the exchange of healthcare information globally in a way that is safe and accurate, which allows healthcare providers and policy makers around the world to make informed decisions that improve health systems.

“The need to be able to interrogate health information and make informed decisions based on the experiences of our partners in other countries, has come to the fore as we have dealt with the COVID-19 outbreak in recent months. The IPU’s Product File Department has been proud to make a contribution to this important global (database of) terminology. We are equally proud of collegial collaboration with the Irish SNOMED NRC.”

Theresa Barry is the Irish NRC manager, working with the HSE in the Office of the Chief Information Officer. She said, “contributing to the drug catalogue into the International edition of SNOMED is welcomed by healthcare professionals globally, as SNOMED content is an iterative process and is in constant development”. She added, “working with the IPU has been a combined process and addressing the gap in the current SNOMED CT files has been welcomed internationally”.

Ms Hannigan concluded, “We are delighted to contribute to the development of SNOMED CT, and we are honoured that healthcare professionals using SNOMED CT around the world will now be adopting clinical terms developed by the Irish Pharmacy Union. This piece of work has been a considerable investment by the IPU, but we believe it is of huge benefit both in Ireland and internationally to clinicians and healthcare workers, and healthcare systems around the world.”




Note to Editors:

What is SNOMED CT?

SNOMED CT is internationally recognised as a robust terminology for healthcare, enabling relevant clinical information to be recorded using consistent and common representations as well as giving support to a more widespread objective of interoperability between all care systems, in both primary and secondary care.

What is Ireland’s relationship with SNOMED?

On 31 October 2016, the Office of the Chief Information Officer of the HSE announced that, in conjunction with the Department of Health, it had joined SNOMED International. The Irish Pharmacy Union subsequently applied for and received an affiliate licence for SNOMED CT.

What is an example of a concept the IPU contributed to SNOMED CT?

Dabigatran 100mg capsule is a medicine used to prevent the formation of blood clots after surgery. This is just one example of a clinical drug that is widely prescribed but does not exist currently in the SNOMED CT terminology. These clinical drugs will now be coded and launched as part of SNOMED’s July update. This will contribute to the sharing of information in a timely and accurate manner between different healthcare professionals, improving quality and safety of care for patients. 

What is the IPU Product File?

The IPU Product File contains information on over 63,000 products, which includes licensed and unlicensed medicinal products available in Ireland, covering pharmacy and hospital related products ranging from all prescription and over-the-counter medicines to cosmetic and front-of-shop products. In addition to pricing information, barcodes etc., the IPU Product File Department provides professional information on products such as updates to product form, strength, active ingredient, legal classification etc. The IPU Product File is updated daily and changes are disseminated on a monthly basis. The IPU Product File has been awarded ISO 9001 (Quality) and 27001 (Information Security).

What is an NRC?

The NRC is the National Release Centre. NRCs are required to serve as primary points of contact for SNOMED International with regards to all aspects of the management of the terminology products. NRCs are the primary points of contact for Affiliates within a Member country. Affiliates can contact the NRC for guidance and direction with respect to implementation and use of SNOMED CT within the Member country. The NRCs serve as intermediaries between the Affiliates and the SNOMED CT community.