Tuesday, 03 February 2009 07:25

Australian technology developed for use in health systems worldwide

By Staff Writers
Australian 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.

Working through the Australian e-Health Research Centre (AEHRC), researchers at Australia’s Commonwealth Scientific Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) say the software they have developed will help to address an issue vexing health systems worldwide – the need for quality, accurate information in electronic health records.

The Medical Director of AEHRC, Bruce Barraclough said electronic health records would only improve patient safety and outcomes if they contained good, accurate information.

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. 
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 ¬¬ten times faster than other classifiers, significantly improving the user interactions with the Workbench editing tools.
The software will soon be used by IHTSDO member organisations, including Australia's National E-Health Transition Authority.

The chief executive of the HTSDO, 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.

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