Clinical Terminology

What are Clinical Terminologies?

Clinical terminologies are structured vocabularies covering complex concepts such as diseases, operations, treatments and medicines. Clinical terminologies can be used in clinical practice to aid health professionals with more easily accessible and complete information regarding medical history, illnesses, treatments, laboratory results, and similar facts.

Examples of international standards in terminology include SNOMED CT and LOINC TM .

Benefits for Individuals

Clinical terminologies as a foundation of health records can benefit individuals through improved quality of care with greater cost-effectiveness. They standardise clinical information which can facilitate improved patient outcomes, clinical decision support, follow-up, and treatment by:

  • Providing consistent meaning in the clinical information recorded during consultations;
  • Allowing an enhanced link between clinical guidelines and protocols to clinical records;
  • Forming the basis of decision support systems which check the patient’s records and provide real time advice about important clinical alerts such as drug allergies;
  • Enabling the sharing of important clinical information to others involved in the patient’s care journey, with meaningful and accurate interpretation of this information regardless of the type of provider; and
  • Reducing the frequency and impact of adverse healthcare events.

Benefits for Healthcare Organisations

Clinical terminologies allow meaning-based retrieval of clinical information to help healthcare organisations to conduct effective analyses for research, evaluating the quality and cost of care, designing effective treatment guidelines, and much more. Other benefits include:

  • The identification of emerging health trends and issues;
  • Monitoring of the overall health of the greater population and any responses to changing clinical practices;
  • Enabling accurate and targeted access to relevant information, reducing errors; and
  • Reducing costly duplications of testing and treatment.