Skip directly to search Skip directly to A to Z list Skip directly to navigation Skip directly to site content Skip directly to page options
CDC Home
Public Health Information Network (PHIN)

PHIN Vocabulary Access and Distribution System

Defining PHIN Vocabulary Access and Distribution System (VADS)

PHIN VADS provides standard vocabularies to CDC and its Public Health partners in one place. PHIN VADS is a web-based enterprise vocabulary system for accessing, searching, and distributing vocabularies used in public health and clinical care practice. It promotes the use of standards-based vocabulary to support the exchange of consistent information among Public Health partners. Currently, there are 35 code systems, 1,200 value sets and over 2 million concepts in PHIN VADS based on the code system/domain recommendations and value set recommendations from Health Information Technology Standards Panel (HITSP) C80 specification. Users can access and view vocabularies in the context of public health with file download options for Value Sets, Value Set Concepts, Views and Groups available in a tab-delimited text format and also in Microsoft Excel format (additional download file formats are scheduled for a future release of PHIN VADS). The main purpose of PHIN VADS is to distribute the value sets associated with HL7 message implementation guides.

To access VADS, go to:

Release notes detailing changes of content and/or application updates in the current PHIN VADS release can be found in the VADS application via the ‘Release Notes’ link in the left navigation pane.

VADS Content and Resources

PHIN VADS provides all the vocabulary metadata needed for HL7 Messaging or Clinical Document Architecture (CDA). Users can navigate and download value sets based on HL7 Implementation Guides or PHIN Vocabulary Groups (Domains).

Frequently used VADS content (Hot topics)

PHIN VADS provides quick access to commonly and frequently used value sets and messaging guide vocabulary views in the home page ( under “Hot Topics”. Some of the hot topics links are provided here for quick access to PHIN VADS frequently used vocabulary:

  1. RCMT - Reportable Condition Mapping Table provides mapping between conditions and its associated lab test and results.
    1. RCMT Navigation - PHIN VADS -
    2. RCMT Navigation (PDF File) - Links to discussion threads, recordings and vocabulary content. -
    3. Entire RCMT Download - Excel Format -
    4. RCMT phConnect Discussion Forum -
  2. Public Health Meaningful Use vocabulary (ELR, Immunization and Syndromic Surveillance)
    1. ELR HL7 2.5.1 - Value sets associated with Electronic Laboratory Reporting HL7 2.5.1 Implementation Guide.
      1. ELR 2.5.1 Value Sets - Laboratory Reporting (ELR) to Public Health - HL7 Version 2.5.1
    2. Immunization HL7 2.5.1 - Value sets associated with Immunization HL7 2.5.1 implementation guide.
      1. Immunization 2.5.1 - Messaging - HL7 Version 2.5.1
    3. Syndromic Surveillance for Emergency Department (ED) and Urgent Care (UC): value sets associated with Syndromic Surveillance PHIN messaging guide.
      1. Syndromic Surveillance - Surveillance
  3. NHSN Healthcare Associated Infection (HAI) - All the value sets associated with National Healthcare Safety Network - Healthcare Associated Infection (HAI) - Release 5
      1. NHSN HAI - Release 5 -
  4. PHLIP Flu Lab Report Vocabulary – All the value sets associated with PHLIP Flu lab report HL7 message implementation guide.
    PHLIP Flu Vocabulary Mapping Workbook: This workbook helps users map local influenza related vocabulary to standard vocabulary. PHLIP Vocabulary Mapping Workbook

Navigation of VADS Content

Updates to the PHIN VADS application are planned for a future release to facilitate easier browsing of VADS content. Until such enhancements are released, the following PDF files provide bookmarks to value sets based on specific topics:

  1. PHIN Vocabulary Views (HL7 Messaging Implementation Guides) -

    Examples: TB, H1N1, Measles, Mumps, etc.
  2. PHIN Vocabulary Group (Domain / Subject Category)

    Examples: Demographics, Lab, Drugs, Public Health, etc.
  3. VADS Value Sets by Standard Development Organization (SDO)

    Examples: SNOMED, LOINC, ICD-9 CM, RxNorm, etc.

VADS Web Service

The PHIN VADS web site is powered by an open web service that can be directly consumed by 3rd party applications. These web services are public and built upon open standards such as HL7 Common Terminology Services (CTS) and IHE Sharing Value Set (SVS)

The VADS Web Service consists of an interface that defines the web methods that are available, the domain objects that represent vocabulary information, and data transfer objects (DTOs) to transfer data to and from the web service. Custom programs, applications, or data extraction scripts can be written to directly use PHIN VADS Web Services.

A sample web service code and a detailed API are available in the PHIN VADS Developer’s Toolkit at the following PHIN VADS site:

Universal Authoring Framework (UAF)

The Universal Authoring Framework (UAF) tool is a Web based, thin client authoring tool built on ISO-11179 standards including a service layer built on the HL7 Common Terminology Services standard. The main purpose of UAF is to author and maintain the value sets present in PHIN VADS.

The tool provides users the following features:

  • The ability to import their vocabulary or SDO vocabulary content into the database
  • View any errors that occur during the import process
  • Edit the data they upload, and then distribute their vocabulary through a publishing mechanism

Multiple levels of governance and security exist in the tool including role based, application data, and functional levels of security.

Some additional advantages of the tool include versioning of value sets, quick authoring turnaround time of less than 24 hours, historical tracking of database updates, and support of any file format when importing data so that no data preparation is required outside of the tool.

All of this translates into a tool that allows for faster loading of content by users who better own and isolate their work while making data integrity easily maintained.

Contacting Us

The PHIN VADS user group meets quarterly. To be added to the distribution list for user group information, content and application releases, contact the PHIN VADS team at Enhancement Requests/Defect Reports can also be submitted to the PHIN VADS team using this same email address with the subject header: Enhancement or Defect.

PHIN VADS has an online forum that allows the implementers to interact with CDC vocabulary team and public health community about PHIN VADS application and content. Link for PHIN VADS forum -


CDC 24/7 – Saving Lives. Protecting People. Saving Money Through Prevention. Learn More About How CDC Works For You…
CDC Vital Signs™ – Learn about the latest public health data. Read CDC Vital Signs™…


Contact Us:
  • Public Health Information Network (PHIN)
    1600 Clifton Rd
    Atlanta, GA 30333
  • 1-800-532-9929
    TTY: (888) 232-6348
  • PHINTECH@CDC.GOV The U.S. Government's Official Web PortalDepartment of Health and Human Services
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention   1600 Clifton Road Atlanta, GA 30329-4027, USA
800-CDC-INFO (800-232-4636) TTY: (888) 232-6348 - Contact CDC–INFO
A-Z Index
  1. A
  2. B
  3. C
  4. D
  5. E
  6. F
  7. G
  8. H
  9. I
  10. J
  11. K
  12. L
  13. M
  14. N
  15. O
  16. P
  17. Q
  18. R
  19. S
  20. T
  21. U
  22. V
  23. W
  24. X
  25. Y
  26. Z
  27. #