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NHS Digital sets up deal for terminology server


Mark Say Managing Editor

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NHS Digital has set up a single-supplier procurement framework for the Ontoserver terminology server.

It said this will support the sharing of clinical and administrative codes between NHS organisations and technology suppliers.

The organisation has signed a deal with Australia’s national science agency CSIRO, which developed the Ontoserver, and IT solutions company DXC Technology, which has the licence to use it in the UK.

The server can match up common variations in clinical terminologies – such as ‘chest infection’ and ‘upper respiratory infection’ – to help different clinical coding systems to talk to each other.

NHS Digital said it will allow buyers to share code system reference data from a central NHS Digital terminology server, which should enable easier integration of local coding systems with national and international coding languages.

The move can also contribute to improved clinical safety as organisations can choose to have access to a consistent terminology mapping capability to support integrated care, NHS Digital said.

Approved researchers and planners will be able to draw upon reference data from the NHS Digital terminology server to create their own databases, where they will be able to map local and existing codes with new coding systems such as SNOMED-CT.

Using FHIR

NHS Digital said this will build on its data register service and use the international Fast Healthcare Interoperability Resources (FHIR) standard to process codes, their descriptions and interrelationships.

Its terminology server acts as a translation service and will support other tools such as the NHS Data Dictionary, which provides a reference point for information standards such as those on how date of birth or clinical conditions should be recorded.

The move will also help to supply reference data for NHS Digital’s Trusted Research Environment, a service that provides approved researchers with access to essential linked, de-identified reference health data.

In Wales, the terminology server will be delivered under the National Data Resource Programme as a core component of the NHS Wales Digital Health and Care Record Architecture.

Long-standing challenge

Nicholas Oughtibridge, principle data architect at NHS Digital, said: “Recording data once and then reconciling, comparing and sharing the data safely has been a long-standing challenge across the NHS.

Ontoserver has the potential to transform the way in which data is captured, shared and analysed across health and care.

“The capabilities that Ontoserver delivers are key to enabling data from disparate systems to be safely and meaningfully exchanged between care providers, researchers and service planners.

“NHS data is already a valuable tool in fighting disease and finding new courses of treatment, but having access to more localised data, more quickly will have a real boost for researchers.”

Image (amended) by Intel Free Press, CC BY 2.0 through flickr

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