The intellectual property rights of SNOMED Clinical Terms have been sold for $7.8m (£3.6m) to a newly-formed board called the International Health Terminology Standards Development Organisation, based in Denmark.
The IHSTDO is made up of nine nations – Australia, Canada, Denmark, Lithuania, The Netherlands, New Zealand, the United States and the United Kingdom with Connecting for Health acting as the host organisation for the UK’s National Release Centre.
The group is assuming responsibility for the maintenance, development, quality assurance, and distribution of SNOMED CT with former owners, the College of American Pathologists (CAP) continuing to support standards development organisation (SDO) operations under an initial three year contract.
IHTSDO’s management board chair, Professor Martin Severs, said: “We are delighted with the initial success of this truly international undertaking. Making SNOMED CT available this way is an example of how global health cooperation can benefit health systems, services, and products in the UK and around the world.
“Most of all it is about better supporting the care of people – patients, clients and citizens – who can and should benefit from organisational and technological advances such as this.”
CfH’s UK National Release Centre for SNOMED CT will be known as the UK Terminology Centre and will be responsible for managing, distributing, supporting and controlling the use of SNOMED CT and related assets throughout the UK.
It will provide an interface between all IHTSDO member release centres and any UK-based users interested in getting a SNOMED CT royalty-free licence to use the coding in their environments.
Connecting for Health chief executive, Richard Granger, said: “It became very clear with the establishment of NHS Connecting for Health in England that legacy arrangements around clinical terminology with a bilateral and costly arrangement between the UK and the US were not sustainable or indeed desirable.
“The establishment on a firm footing of a multinational initiative will help to ensure the standards used by the NHS in England, as we continue to roll out systems, will be compatible with those in other countries. This will benefit both patients who move between countries and also reduce the risk of England continuing to need jurisdiction-specific systems with significant concurrent costs.”
SNOMED – the Systemised Nomenclature of Medicine Clinical Terms – is considered to be the most comprehensive, multilingual clinical healthcare terminology in the world and can be use to represent clinically relevant information to help standardise electronic health records.
CAP’s president, Thomas Sodeman, said: “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. The college is proud to have assisted in this important milestone.”
CAP will continue to provide SNOMED-related products and services as a licensee of the terminology.
Industry expert Tim Benson told EHI the acquisition would ‘change the landscape’ of clinical terminology.