What it is

SNOMED CT is a comprehensive system of clinical terminology that comprises over 350,000 concepts and 1,200,000 terms in health and social care. It was developed by a global team of clinicians, researchers and content authors.

It combines human-readable descriptions and coded concepts in a poly-hierarchical structure that captures meaning through relationships.

SNOMED includes concepts for clinical findings, disorders, procedures, substances, medicines, devices and other concepts related to health and social care.

Other international coding and classification systems are mapped to and integrated with SNOMED.

What we use it for

  • Clinical documentation at point of care
  • Electronic health records
  • Consistent communication of personal health information
  • Real-time clinical decision support
  • Health pathways
  • Health data analytics.

SNOMED CT Implementation in New Zealand

SNOMED CT is endorsed by the Ministry of Health as an information standard for the health and disability sector, supporting the smart system theme of the New Zealand Health Strategy.

District health boards (DHBs) are implementing SNOMED CT as a requirement with all new investment in clinical information systems. Primary health organisations (PHO) are also seeing the advantages and implementing SNOMED CT  in new and upgraded systems. Nationally, SNOMED CT will be the key information standard for the planned single electronic health record system.

Pilot projects around the country are showing the benefits to care coordination, clinical decision support and interoperability that SNOMED CT makes possible:

  • St John Ambulance's electronic patient report form
  • Nelson-Marlborough DHB's emergency department at a glance information system
  • New Zealand Universal List of Medicines (NZULM)
  • Midlands Health Network's new multi-practice, multi-specialty patient management system
  • South Island Patient Information Care System (SIPICS)

SNOMED CT is an emerging standard for laboratory and radiology orders and results, referrals and clinical assessments. SNOMED CT resources are being developed for the many health specialties within the scope of the National Patient Flow (NPF) project, which is about tracking the patient journey. For example, a strategic principle of the New Zealand Cancer Health Information Strategy is to use SNOMED CT to capture better information about the patient’s condition and their treatment.

In the context of the single electronic health record, SNOMED CT will be used to represent medications, health issues, allergies and adverse reactions, test results and care plans as core personal health information.

In the near future a project will begin to migrate from Read codes to SNOMED CT in primary care for better information in personal injury claims and medical certificates. The Ministry of Health, Ministry of Social Development and Accident Compensation Corporation are working together on this initiative.

SNOMED CT Licensing

New Zealand Affiliate License

The New Zealand SNOMED CT National Release Centre is responsible for the New Zealand management of SNOMED CT via IHTSDO’s Member Licensing and Distribution Service (MLDS).


SNOMED CT is the standard terminology to be used to record clinical information at point of care across the health and disability sector in New Zealand. Organisations and individuals that use SNOMED CT or develop software using SNOMED CT in New Zealand must have an Affiliate Licence.


The Ministry of Health encourages all health providers and software vendors in New Zealand to register as an Affiliate with the National Release Centre (NRC).


Affiliates receive free access to the six-monthly releases of SNOMED and to online education courses.


To apply for a New Zealand Affiliate License and to get the latest version of SNOMED, you will need to:


Charges apply if the intention is to deploy SNOMED CT outside of SNOMED International territories please refer to Affiliate license fees.

Licensing or Registration enquiries

For SNOMED licensing or registration enquiries please contact the New Zealand SNOMED CT National Release Centre at SNOMED_CT@moh.govt.nz

Migrating from Read codes to SNOMED CT

Read Codes have been used since the 1990s by health providers and government agencies to capture information about patients in primary care medical records, injury claims, medical certificates and system performance measure statistics. Read codes have been important but they are now superseded by SNOMED CT.


SNOMED CT completely replaces Read codes as the clinical terminology standard for personal health information. Using SNOMED CT terms to describe health issues, impact on life and interventions will enable new levels of care coordination and clinical decision support, benefitting patients and health providers. Information created this way is actionable and supports social investment.


The first district health boards and primary health organisations are now migrating their systems from Read codes to SNOMED CT. The Ministry of Health and other key agencies are working together to support and accelerate this process. The Ministry is making available the mapping tables that will enable health providers and their industry partners to perform migration.


With the necessary resources in place, the Ministry of Health and the other key agencies are developing and will be consulting on a timetable for migration from Read codes to SNOMED CT.


SNOMED CT browsers are software applications used for searching, navigating and viewing concepts, synonyms and relationships that make up the terminology.


There are currently two online browsers that are free to use and do not require any software downloads; however, you will need to accept the terms of the licence agreement. The 'Go Browsing' tab will give you visibility of the latest international release.


  1. SNOMED CT Browser provides access to view the SNOMED International Edition and other Country Extensions.
  2. The New Zealand Extension SNOMED CT Browser provides access to view the SNOMED NZ Extension which comprises of the SNOMED International Edition and New Zealand specific content. Refer to the SNOMED CT NZ Edition webpage for further information about New Zealand content.

Other tools

Other SNOMED International tools the New Zealand national Release Centre uses include, the Reference Set Manager, Authoring Platform, Managed Service and Snowstorm terminology server.

Pātiki and Waharua Kōpito patterns

SNOMED is a standard for the health and disability system

SNOMED is required by the Health Information Standards Organisation (HISO) as a standard for the health and disability system. HISO’s interoperability roadmap describes the importance of SNOMED to accelerate the shift to a fully interoperable digital health ecosystem.