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Inform Prim Care. 2006;14(4):247-52.

The Primary Care Electronic Library: RSS feeds using SNOMED-CT indexing for dynamic content delivery.

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Division of Community Health Sciences, St George's - University of London, London, UK.



Rich Site Summary (RSS) feeds are a method for disseminating and syndicating the contents of a website using extensible mark-up language (XML). The Primary Care Electronic Library (PCEL) distributes recent additions to the site in the form of an RSS feed. When new resources are added to PCEL, they are manually assigned medical subject headings (MeSH terms), which are then automatically mapped to SNOMED-CT terms using the Unified Medical Language System (UMLS) Metathesaurus. The library is thus searchable using MeSH or SNOMED-CT. Our syndicate partner wished to have remote access to PCEL coronary heart disease (CHD) information resources based on SNOMED-CT search terms.


To pilot the supply of relevant information resources in response to clinically coded requests, using RSS syndication for transmission between web servers.


Our syndicate partner provided a list of CHD SNOMED-CT terms to its end-users, a list which was coded according to UMLS specifications. When the end-user requested relevant information resources, this request was relayed from our syndicate partner's web server to the PCEL web server. The relevant resources were retrieved from the PCEL MySQL database. This database is accessed using a server side scripting language (PHP), which enables the production of dynamic RSS feeds on the basis of Source Asserted Identifiers (CODEs) contained in UMLS.


Retrieving resources using SNOMED-CT terms using syndication can be used to build a functioning application. The process from request to display of syndicated resources took less than one second.


The results of the pilot illustrate that it is possible to exchange data between servers using RSS syndication. This method could be utilised dynamically to supply digital library resources to a clinical system with SNOMED-CT data used as the standard of reference.

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