Spain has become the eleventh country to join the international healthcare standards development organisation (IHTSDO), the organisation aimed at spreading the use of standardised clinical terminology SNOMED CT.

Spain will join the global effort to develop, maintain and spread the use of the clinical terminology, which aims to promote consistency, accuracy and reliability of health information systems, resulting in improved patient safety.

The move means that the main standardised health terminology in the world, which is used in than 40 countries, will be made available in Spain to be used in the electronic health records as well as other health information systems.

In 2008, The Spanish Ministry of Health and Social Policy produced a ‘semantic interoperability map’ which identified the use of SNOMED CT as a key factor in enabling the exchange of information between different health record systems..

Javier Etreros, director of Spain’s electronic health record project, said: “SNOMED CT is already being used in Spain in specific cases by some professional groups and institutions. What we aim now is to boost the use in the Spanish health organisations and in coordination with the regional authorities.”

Spain is the third country, outside of the nine charter members, to join promote the spread of standardised clinical terminology, after Singapore and Cyprus joined in 2008.

The founding members are Australia, Canada, Denmark, Netherlands, US, New Zealand and Lithuania, UK and Sweden.

Professor Martin Severs, chair of IHTSDO’s management board, said: “We are delighted to welcome Spain as a new member of IHTSDO. Our work on health terminology standards is a global effort to respond to needs that we all share.

“By pooling our experiences and our resources, we can make more progress than any one country could do on its own, which benefits patients and health professionals in all of our nations.”