SNOMED codes or officially named SNOMED CT are used within healthcare and particularly electronic health records (EHRs) as a centralised terminology. It is in essence a clinical vocabulary allowing different IT systems to exchange clinical information more effectively and accurately. This system is not just used in the UK, but worldwide as a multilingual terminology.
Because social prescribing is increasingly becoming a part of the NHS, link workers and other social prescribing staff are being asked to use SNOMED codes indicating a social prescribing prescription. These codes are input into systems such as SystmOne and EMIS Web.
Social prescribing SNOMED codes
The national SNOMED codes for social prescribing are as follows:
Social prescribing declined: 871711000000103
This SNOMED code is used when a person is contacted by a link workers and explicitly states they do not wish to make use of the social prescribing service.
Referral to social prescribing service: 871731000000106
This SNOMED code can be used when a referral has come in via for instance a GP. In addition, this code can be used when a link worker is proactively calling with a person and support is being given to that person whether emotional or physical assistance.
Why use social prescribing SNOMED codes?
Link workers, GPs, PCNs and other involved parties using these codes will help ensure social prescribing is part of this multilingually structured vocabulary, but more importantly this systematic use of SNOMED CT coding allows for national data collection.
Firstly, NHS England uses SNOMED codes to measure the uptake of social prescribing. This means that they can see how many prescriptions come in per locality as well as nationwide. This data allows NHS England to analyse how actively social prescribing is used and informs their decision-making and budgeting process. As a result, it could help primary care to adapt and evolve as an accurate dataset reveals the social prescribing needs from the public.
Secondly, PCNs are paid based on the referral count of social prescribing coming in. Commissioners look at the number of SNOMED codes sent in. Therefore, SNOMED codes are key to receiving the right funding for social prescribing services offered.