Frequently asked questions

Why is PRSB issuing this guidance for recording information on COVID-19 now?
The guidance supports clinicians recording information relating to COVID-19 and its management. Using consistent coding will  help improve the care of individuals now as well as informing research into the best way to manage this virus across the whole population. It is a vital part of the effort to manage and combat the virus that clinicians use these terms consistently.


Are these terms in the guidance consistent with SNOMED CT and ICD-10 codes?
The terms were developed by health and social care professionals for health and care professionals and reflect what information should be recorded in patient records. Used consistently, they can be mapped against SNOMED CT codes, ICD-10 codes and other coding systems and terms to support care management during the pandemic and its aftermath. Use of these terms will also support secondary uses of data including research, public health and service planning for the pandemic now and in the future.


How do these terms relate to NHS Digital’s SNOMED CT code releases?
NHS Digital has released new SNOMED CT codes specific to COVID-19.  They asked PRSB to establish a health and care professional reference group to develop guidance that summarises the most useful and useable clinical terms related to the care and management of COVID-19. The guidance identifies terms that read across to the codes published by NHS Digital which can be found at https://hscic.kahootz.com/connect.ti/COVID19_info_sharing/view?objectId=67227941 and also read across to existing ICD-10 codes.


What should I be using now?
Health and care professionals should use the terms set out in PRSB’s guidance now. These terms link directly to NHS Digital’s release of COVID-19 related SNOMED CT codes. System suppliers are implementing these codes as we speak.  Some have already completed implementation; others are doing so now and in the near future.  The new codes are being made available in appropriate data entry forms and templates as needed. The codes should be used as soon as they are available in your local system – refer to guidance from your system supplier or local management to know when this applies to you.


Who does this guidance apply to?
The guidance applies to all health and care professionals recording COVID-19 related information. That includes clinicians, social care professionals and clinical coders. System suppliers are aware of the requirement to comply with the new SNOMED CT codes published by NHS Digital. By using the terms set out in the guidance consistently COVID-19 related information will be codable once your systems incorporate the new SNOMED CT codes.


How will data be shared between systems that are on different versions of SNOMED CT codes or use other codes?
By using the terms set out in the guidance consistently,  health and care professionals can ensure that information can be shared between professionals and settings without loss of meaning. Some translation would be needed between systems depending on how the information is held but by using the same definitions, professionals will have a shared understanding of the meaning of terms, regardless of what coding systems are used. NHS Digital are working to look at how any inconsistencies in coding are managed and eradicated over time.


Why are there UK specific Covid-19 SNOMED CT codes? Why not use the international codes?
For a number of practical and operational reasons NHS Digital’s release of SNOMED CT will be based on the July 2018 SNOMED International release, which does not contain the international SNOMED CT COVID-19 codes. In order to accommodate additional requirements for COVID-19 management and minimise other change impact, NHS Digital Classifications and Terminologies Delivery Services are recommending making minimal changes to include COVID-19 codes. Scheduled changes are planned for October 2020 to phase in merger with SNOMED CT international content and Covid-19 specific content.


Does this mean UK data won’t be able to be aggregated with international data for research into the care and treatment of people infected with COVID-19?
All international COVID-19 codes have counterparts in the UK data and so can be aggregated.


Will there be other additional releases?
Additional interim releases to accommodate novel COVID-19 requirements are planned. These will be to support new activities or observations, to manage new challenges specific to later waves of the disease or its recovery phases.


How was this list compiled?
This list was developed by PRSB’s COVID-19 health and care professional reference group. The group came together to review the COVID-19 related terms and codes published by NHS Digital and identify any gaps or additional requirements for recording the care and management of patients exposed to coronavirus.  The terms released by NHS Digital are the result of collaboration between NHS Digital terminology/clinical staff and representatives of primary care system suppliers as well as extraction and analysis groups. As the COVID-19 story has developed, more content has been developed to try and keep up (e.g. with aspects relating to transmission suppression).


Can changes to the list be suggested?
The current publishing process means that the current list cannot now be changed. However, feedback is always welcome, released content can undergo certain controlled modifications or be withdrawn, and new content can be added for later releases.


What happens next?
Further information and guidance will be provided over the coming weeks as well as new work to set out the plans to enable alignment across the whole health and care system.


Where do I go for help and support?
The PRSB has an online support service. Please log any issues or suggested changes through our website.

Alternatively, issues and suggested changes can be raised directly with NHS Digital through the contact link on their website, or directly to covid19information.standards@nhs.net