Information technology  

SNOMED CT clinical coding standard transferred to new international organization

4 May 2007

Northfield, Ill., USA. SNOMED Clinical Terms (SNOMED CT), the UK-US developed standard for clinical terminology, has been acquired by the newly formed International Health Terminology Standards Development Organization (IHTSDO).

The new organization, which is also known as SNOMED SDO, has acquired the intellectual property rights of SNOMED Clinical Terms (SNOMED CT) and its antecedents from the College of American Pathologists (CAP) for $7.8 million.

The new international organization is assuming responsibility for the ongoing maintenance, development, quality assurance, and distribution of SNOMED CT. The CAP will continue to support SDO operations under an initial 3-year contract and will continue to provide SNOMED-related products and services as a licensee of the terminology.

When implemented in software applications, SNOMED CT can be used to represent clinically relevant information consistently worldwide as an integral part of producing standardized electronic health records. With a history dating back to 1965, SNOMED CT (Systematized Nomenclature of Medicine Clinical Terms) is considered to be the most comprehensive, multilingual clinical healthcare terminology in the world.

"We are delighted with the initial success of this truly international undertaking," said Professor Martin Severs, IHTSDO Management Board chair. "Making SNOMED CT available this way is an example of how global health cooperation can benefit health systems, services, and products around the world."

"As the international adoption and use of SNOMED CT has grown, it has become apparent that an international governance structure that is open to the entire global healthcare community would be to everyone's benefit," said Thomas Sodeman, MD, FCAP, president of the College of American Pathologists. "The College is proud to have assisted in this important milestone."

SNOMED CT was formed in 1999 by the convergence of SNOMED Reference Terminology (SNOMED RT), developed by CAP in the US, and Clinical Terms Version 3 (formerly known as the Read Codes), which was developed by the UK National Health Service. Use of SNOMED CT can support more effective and efficient health care and prevention within individual countries while also supporting enhanced international public health and research activities.

The IHTSDO is registered as a not-for-profit association within Denmark. Its Charter Members are organizations representing Australia, Canada, Denmark, Lithuania, The Netherlands, New Zealand, Sweden, the United Kingdom, and the United States.

Membership is open to all countries, and there is a provision for sponsored use in developing countries. The IHTSDO will establish formal harmonization activities with other organizations, including the World Health Organization (WHO), to promote effective interoperability between SNOMED CT and other health data standards.

A description of IHTSDO's principles and objectives, open and participatory governance process, and uniform licensing terms is at

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