Reliability of SNOMED-CT coding by three physicians using two terminology browsers.

Academic Article


  • SNOMED-CT has been promoted as a reference terminology for electronic health record (EHR) systems. Many important EHR functions are based on the assumption that medical concepts will be coded consistently by different users. This study is designed to measure agreement among three physicians using two SNOMED-CT terminology browsers to encode 242 concepts from five ophthalmology case presentations in a publicly-available clinical journal. Inter-coder reliability, based on exact coding match by each physician, was 44% using one browser and 53% using the other. Intra-coder reliability testing revealed that a different SNOMED-CT code was obtained up to 55% of the time when the two browsers were used by one user to encode the same concept. These results suggest that the reliability of SNOMED-CT coding is imperfect, and may be a function of browsing methodology. A combination of physician training, terminology refinement, and browser improvement may help increase the reproducibility of SNOMED-CT coding.
  • Author List

  • Chiang MF; Hwang JC; Yu AC; Casper DS; Cimino JJ; Starren JB
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