Concept Dictionary

SanteDB's concept dictionary is based heavily on the work done in OpenMRS' Concept Dictionary, the SanteDB concept dictionary is logically made up of four fundamental concepts, described in this page.


In SanteDB, a "concept" is a logical construct for representing the idea of something. Concepts are used within the SanteDB core models to represent these ideas on particular attributes. Examples of concepts may be:

  • The concept of a "Male", or "Female"

  • The concept of a "Syringe" (an object used to inject a substance)

  • The concept of "Oral Polio Vaccine" (an antigen administered orally which protects against polio)

Concepts are assigned a unique mnemonic (a human readable term) and a UUID. Additionally concepts may carry one or more display names.

Concept Relationships

Concepts can be related to one another via a relationship. The relationship of one concept to another is used to indicate parent/child relationships, specification/generalization, etc. A relationship applies to two concepts and carries a concept relationship classification which can be one of:



Same As

Indicates that concept A is the same as concept B. The two concepts can be considered interchangeable (i.e. if a system uses concept A and another system queries using concept B, then concept A and B should be considered equal).

Narrower Than

Indicates that concept A represents an idea which is narrower in scope than concept B. For example, a concept of "Diagnosis-YellowFever" would be narrower than "Diagnosis-Fever"

Wider Than

Indicates that concept A is a broader idea than concept B. This is the inverse of the Narrower-Than relationship.

Negation Of

Indicates that concept A negates concept B.

Inverse Of

Indicates that concept A has the opposite semantic meaning of concept B.

Member Of

Indicates that concept A is a member or sub-concept of concept B. For example, a concept for "Ebola" may be a member of the concept "Hemorrhagic Fever".

Concept Sets

Concept sets represent a logical grouping of multiple concepts into a single list of related ideas. Concept sets are useful for driving user interface inputs, or allowing the searching/selection of ideas.

For example, a deployment may use the AdministrativeGender concept set to drive their inputs for selecting gender. Jurisdictions can customize those concepts which are members of this set based on their business requirements.

Some fields in the SanteDB database are bound to concept sets using the ck_set_mem() function. This ensures that semantic integrity of data is maintained within the DBMS.

Reference Terms

Reference terms are used for the expression of concept within an external codification system. Reference terms are used to translate concept sets into wire-level codifications of those concepts. This design allows the SanteDB internal data model to maintain integrity with a known internal series of concepts, while mapping those concepts to external code systems which may or may not be subjected to changes (for example: ICD9, ICD10 and ICD11 can be implemented by simply mapping).

If you're implementing an interface which mandates the use of a separate code list, it is recommended to use the Concept Repository and register your wire-level codes as reference terms.

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