Veterinary Medical Database adopts SNOMED

Published on April 01, 2002
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The Veterinary Medical Database, the world's largest veterinary medical data repository, has implemented the Systematized Nomenclature of Medicine Clinical Terms as its standard vocabulary. SNOMED-encoding enables veterinarians to share accurate patient data as well as improve the accuracy of epidemiologic studies used to identify thousands of animal diseases, problems, and procedures.

Veterinary colleges and organizations in the United States are familiar with SNOMED Reference Terminology, and many are migrating to SNOMED Clinical Terms upon its availability in March. SNOMED Clinical Terms is the result of the convergence of SNOMED Reference Terminology with the U.K. National Health Service's Clinical Terms Version 3.

"[The nomenclature] will enable [veterinarians] to ensure that data are comprehensive, timely, and accurate, thus maximizing the value of the veterinary database and allowing the veterinary community to better understand and care for all species," said Dr. Arthur Siegel, president of the VMDB and director of medical informatics at the University of Illinois College of Veterinary Medicine.

"The database information provides a basis for evidence-based medicine, identifying epidemiological patterns and exchanging veterinary health records worldwide."

The VMDB is maintained by a consortium of colleges of veterinary medicine in the United States and Canada, and includes more than 6.5 million abstracts of patient records. In addition, the VMDB is a supporter of the AVMA Secretariat to SNOMED International, whose goal is to incorporate unique veterinary terms into SNOMED Clinical Terms to address animal diseases, abnormalities, drugs, and anatomy.

"As the use of electronic medical record systems in veterinary medicine expands, many schools of veterinary medicine are obtaining licenses to use SNOMED-CT for in-house repositories and for sharing data with institutions around the world," said Diane J. Aschman, chief operating officer of SNOMED.

"The innovative uses of the reports in which the VMDB plays a key role, such as tracking livestock vaccination data across state and country lines or confirming cases of rare infectious disease, is a great showcase for the value that SNOMED delivers in analyzing data and reacting in a timely fashion,— Aschman said.

The National Cancer Institute instituted the VMDB in 1964 to study cancer in animals. Since 1988, the Association of Veterinary Medical Data Program Participants Inc. has operated it independently. In the near future, the VMDB staff hope to expand its participant base to include veterinary diagnostic laboratories, large referral practices, and eventually, private veterinary practices.

SNOMED is located at