SNOMED Secretariat receives support

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The most costly proposal before the Executive Board in April was the AVMA Committee on Veterinary Medical Informatics' recommendation to authorize expanded support to the Systematized Nomenclature of Medicine (SNOMED) AVMA Secretariat for 2001 and 2002; cost, $272,000.

The funds were requested to support the AVMA's Secretariat to SNOMED International in developing content for SNOMED-RT (Reference Terminology). The purpose was to ensure that the system would be functional for veterinary users and that veterinary content in SNOMED can be used with information standards such as Health Level Seven, and Digital Imaging and Communication in Medicine.

After thorough debate, the board amended the recommendation and allocated $38,000 for 2001 so that Dr. Jeff Wilcke, director of the AVMA Secretariat for SNOMED, can hire a part-time assistant to help him develop veterinary medical content for SNOMED. A comprehensive medical nomenclature, SNOMED was developed in conjunction with the AVMA and is owned by the College of American Pathologists (CAP). Dr. Wilcke, professor of veterinary medical informatics and clinical pharmacology at the Virginia-Maryland Regional College of Veterinary Medicine, and a member of the AVMA Informatics Subcommittee for Standards, provides scientific liaison to the CAP's SNOMED editorial board.

Dr. Bonnie Beaver (District VIII) said, "The human side of medicine has a number of physicians [involved in this project], funded by insurance companies. Veterinary medicine has finally, because of Dr. Wilcke and other [members of the AVMA Informatics Subcommittee for Standards], gotten them to see the uniqueness of veterinary medicine in terms of anatomy, diseases, and organisms."

Other board members also spoke to the importance of this evolutionary step, but others expressed grave reservations about the proposed $272,000 funding level, an allocation that would probably be needed in perpetuity.

Dr. Jan Bartels (District III) offered the amendment that was approved to fund the activity at $38,000. A veterinary professor at Auburn University, he said, "It's important to all of us, including academe. All of our case data files, our complete electronic database, will be predicated on this."