The International Health Terminology Standards Development Organisation and the World Health Organisation have signed a collaborative agreement to utilise WHO classifications and SNOMED CT together.

The collaboration aims to create an integrated classifications and terminology system that will improve patient information for health policy, health services management and research across the world.

Martin Severs, chair of the IHTSDO management board, said: “IHTSDO sees this collaboration as a way to make it easier for patients, clinicians, and health authorities to get and use accurate and trusted information.

“We share the goal of having WHO classifications and SNOMED CT work effectively together in order to allow users of the standards from around the world to develop better information and to focus efforts on improving health and healthcare for individuals and populations.”

The two organisations argue that the tools will complement each other in order to make it easier to summarise information and aggregate results from patients’ health records.

WHO classifications are already used to gather information on diseases, disability and interventions of the population’s health. Much of the data that is aggregated for public health responses using WHO classifications often comes from electronic health records.

Tim Evans, WHO’s assistant director general for information, evidence, and research, said: “The road to health passes through information.

"WHO and IHTSDO aim to increase collaboration to create and maintain jointly usable and integrated classification and terminology systems to make efficient and effective use of public resources and avoid duplication of effort.

"This is essential to create health information standards as a common language worldwide.”

The new agreement supports the aims of WHO and IHTSDO to enhance health through better health information and improve the accuracy, reliability and quality of health and care by eliminating gaps in information.

Links: WHO