I know ICD 10 codes are used to describe Granular Level diagnosis on a patient.

Do SNOMED codes do the same? If Yes, why two set of terminologies to describe diagnosis?

Is it because SNOMed Codes are more Provider Friendly while ICD 10 codes are more billing friendly?

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    Welcome to Health.SE! Please take the tour and read the help center. What has your research shown you so far? Where have you already searched? How do you assert that "friendliness" (of your acronyms). Please help us to help you. You may improve your question to comply better with site guidelines with an edit and the help of How to Ask. Thanks! Commented Jun 8, 2018 at 20:04

2 Answers 2


ICD-10 is a classification system which can be used to record certain disease states of a patient, e.g. I50 meaning "Heart failure" or I50.1 meaning "Left ventricular failure".

SNOMED CT provides multiple advantages:

  1. SNOMED CT covers all clinical terms, not just disease states. For example we can say 85232009 meaning "left heart failure" but we could also say 163053002 meaning "raised JVP", 162965007 meaning "lung crackles heard", 421346005 meaning "3+ pitting oedema".

Alternatively, we could say 315261000000101 meaning "patient advised to attend emergency department", 239471000000109 meaning "emergency ambulance call" and 1079771000000108 meaning "transported by ambulance".

  1. SNOMED CT has a grammar, allowing the creation of "expressions". For example, we can say:

236721000000106 meaning "Implantation of intravenous dual chamber cardiac pacemaker system (procedure)"

236721000000106:363704007=91470000 meaning "Implantation of intravenous dual chamber cardiac pacemaker system (procedure) into the axilla"

236721000000106:363704007=91470000, 272741003 = 7771000 meaning "Implantation of intravenous dual chamber cardiac pacemaker system (procedure) into the axilla, left side"

  1. SNOMED CT is far more granular than ICD-10. There are many more specific codes. Furthermore, SNOMED CT expressions as above allow almost any clinical concept to be described in detail.

I would strongly recommend this guide for learning more about SNOMED CT (https://confluence.ihtsdotools.org/display/DOCSTART/SNOMED+CT+Starter+Guide)

  • Thanks JWC. Is it correct to assume that not every Snomed Code has a corresponding ICD 10 code but every ICD 10 code has a corresponding Snomed Code. The reason being that some SNOMED codes also represent doctor care instructions for a patient? Commented Jun 21, 2018 at 15:07
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    Hi, yes - that's broadly correct but SNOMED includes much more than just doctor care instructions - that was simply an example I used to illustrate. There are codes for professions, procedures, advice, medications, family relationships, socioeconomic status, genetics, medical devices (and non-medical devices!). It is a huge collection of terms which allow for almost any statement about clinical care to be made. There are also dedicated mappings for linking ICD10 and SNOMED terms in a reproducible manner.
    – JWC
    Commented Jun 21, 2018 at 15:57
  • Thank you JWC. I will review the confluence link you sent above to gain further understanding of the SNOMed codes. Commented Jun 22, 2018 at 14:08

There are two sets of terminologies because their different purpose. It also sometimes useful to have a competition of two terminologies.

(btw - we also have 2 app stores that serve the same purpose. We really need just one. But we have two for some good reasons)

  • Answers without supporting references will be deleted. Also, just saying they serve different purposes isn't really an answer.
    – Carey Gregory
    Commented May 30, 2019 at 18:59

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