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New Licensing Agreement supports adoption of Clinical Terminology

Published 7 December 2015

Adoption and use of clinical terminology in Australia has received a major boost with the signing of a licensing agreement between the CSIRO and the National E-Health Transition Authority (NEHTA) to grant users within Australia free access to a comprehensive suite of tools to support browsing, authoring, mapping, maintaining, and querying terminology.

These tools will be invaluable for implementers of clinical terminology to move towards unified clinical coding and improved patient safety.

  • NEHTA's LINGO™ enables users to author local extensions to SNOMED CT-AU using the same robust browser-based authoring tool used by the National Clinical Terminology Service.
  • CSIRO's Ontoserver is a terminology server that provides a sophisticated means of querying, searching, filtering and ranking SNOMED CT-AU and other standard clinical terminologies including an application programming interface (API) that allows for quick and easy way for implementers to add SNOMED CT based data capture fields to their system.
  • CSIRO's Snapper is backed by Ontoserver and enables users to create local data sub-sets and maps

"This licensing agreement between NEHTA and CSIRO enables both the private and public health sectors in Australia to access these tools to support the use and maintenance of terminology products. This will significantly improve the implementation and management of clinical data for enhanced patient outcomes," said NEHTA CEO Peter Fleming.

The licensing agreement and national implementation will enable NEHTA to establish a fully syndicated terminology service providing national support for the re-use of locally-built reference sets, simple portal-based access to terminology products, and simplified maintenance processes to cascade SNOMED CT-AU updates into other products and support improved vendor testing processes.

An enhanced web portal and request submission service will also be established by NEHTA's National Clinical Terminology Service (NCTS) along with a registry to enable users to collaborate and share locally developed content.

"CSIRO has developed scientific expertise in Clinical Terminology over the past eight years - demonstrated with the adoption of Snorocket to maintain SNOMED CT internationally, and now through the licensing of these software tools for Australia.

"We see this as an opportunity to deepen our relationships with state and federal health agencies and industry to simplify the implementation of a modern, high quality eHealth ecosystem for Australia," said David Hansen, CEO of the Australian e-Health Research Centre, CSIRO.

As clinical terminology adoption expands to include hospital settings, primary care, specialists, prescribers, community pharmacies and pathology providers, NEHTA's Clinical Terminology programme is focussing on delivering improved support, minimising the need for multiple code sets across multiple clients and providing more frequent updates to terminology to account for new medicines on the market and to support the localisation of content to meet clinicians needs.

"The work NEHTA and the CSIRO are doing to ensure these tools are deployed and integrated within core clinical electronic health record systems is a huge leap forward in getting all the computer systems involved in our healthcare system to talk to each other in the same language," said Stephen Moo, Chair of the National Health Chief Information Officer Forum.

The service is leveraging the emerging Fast Healthcare Interoperability Resources (FHIR®) standard from Health Level Seven™ (HL7™) International as part of its design. FHIR is a next generation standards framework and interoperability specification with a fundamental focus on implementation. The FHIR specification provides a standards base for representing clinical terminology resources as well as an API to support the provision of terminology services.

Pilot sites will commence in early 2016 with full national deployment commencing from mid-2016.

NEHTA will hold a series of webinars and information sessions for vendors and public and private healthcare stakeholders on the sub-licensing arrangements, pilot programmes and implementation progress.

Join in a Connectathon

NEHTA invites all interested to participate in a series of three Connectathons, with the first scheduled for February 2016.

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