Australian technology in global health toolkit

Tuesday, 03 February, 2009

Working through the Australian e-Health Research Centre (AEHRC), CSIRO researchers have developed software that will be used to standardise the clinical descriptions of patient symptoms, treatments and outcomes used in electronic health records around the world.

"Electronic health records will only improve patient safety and outcomes if they contain good, accurate information,” says AEHRC Medical Director Bruce Barraclough.

The software, called Snorocket, has just been released by the Denmark-based International Health Terminology Standards Development Organisation (IHTSDO) as part of its new workbench for classifying medical information.

“The IHTSDO Workbench is an important advance in ensuring the quality of clinical terminology used in health records,” Professor Barraclough says.

The novelty of Snorocket is in its speed. It can process the industry standard — Systematized Nomenclature of Medicine Clinical Terms (SNOMED CT) — up to ­­10 times faster than other classifiers, significantly improving the user interactions with the Workbench editing tools.

It will soon be used by IHTSDO member organisations, including Australia’s National E-Health Transition Authority.

The IHTSDO’s Chief Executive Officer, Jennifer Zelmer, says the Workbench will make it easier for health professionals around the world to collaborate on common challenges.

"By incorporating tools such as the software from AEHRC, users can collaborate more efficiently and effectively in the development of a shared healthcare terminology, grounded in common language-independent concepts,” Dr Zelmer says.

SNOMED CT is a set of standard terms to describe clinical data and has been endorsed worldwide as the preferred clinical terminology for collection of health-related data.

The leader of the AEHRC team which developed Snorocket, CSIRO’s Dr Michael Lawley, says translating the research into a key component of the IHTSDO Workbench demonstrates how AEHRC research is making a significant impact on the global e-health agenda.

A joint venture between CSIRO and the Queensland government, the AEHRC is a leading national research facility for healthcare innovations in information and communication technologies.

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