The semantics of healthcare standards

standards, patient care

When the dot com death hit, it had a big effect on Daniel Karlsson’s career. He was involved in a start-up with three friends who met while studying at the department of biomedical engineering at Linkoping University in Sweden. They ran a consultancy working on projects such as creating health care apps to support prescriptions “before smart phones were particularly smart.”

But when they lost a big customer, Karlsson’s career went in a new direction – working in a terminology project in a hospital. This led to managing a terminology project for the regional health delivery system.

He already had some experience in this area from working on a European Union terminology project as a Phd student. “It was kind of natural for me to work with health care terminology,” he explains.

In 2007 Karlsson became involved with SNOMED CT on behalf of the Swedish National Release Centre, and recently received the HTSDO Award of Excellence, recognising his work on the observable entity hierarchy of SNOMED CT. This is the hierarchy that deals with health care observations, such as blood pressure and body temperatures. The January 2017 release of SNOMED CT will include some defined observables content, for the first time.

Karlsson’s interest in healthcare started when he worked as a nurses’ aide as a teenager. He found working with dementia patients particularly meaningful.

“We were allowed to have time to sit and talk to patients. They had often forgotten recent things, but could tell life stories from their active years,” he recalls.

The time gave him “some insight” into dealing with patients, but as a self-confessed “computer geek” he moved to the IT side of health care, after completing his degree in computer science.

Karlsson, recently contributed to ASSESS CT, an EU funded project to assess how SNOMED CT could be used on a large-scale European level.

The eHealth Network has been exploring the idea of a European patient summary to support a cross-border healthcare market. As part of this, researchers carried out studies into the use of health terminologies worldwide.

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